Breathing deeply may have many benefits for living in good health, but when the cold and flu season is in full swing, sneezes and sniffles may be barriers to practicing deep breathing. When you have a cold or the flu, a cup of chicken soup soothes your whole body. That’s been the experience of five generations in my family, anyway.
“That is well and good,” you say, “but if I can’t cook, knowing the soothing properties of chicken soup doesn’t help much.” If you will trust that I will not attempt to turn you into a top chef, I can show you a way to make a chicken soup to calm the stormiest tummy or appease the most irritated throat.
I assume that you – like me – do little cooking, so I want to begin by telling you what you need to have in your kitchen before you start the soup: (1) supplies: chicken bullion cubes and eggs and (2) tools: your favorite coffee mug, a saucepan, a serving spoon, and a fork. (I also assume that you have a cook stove in your kitchen. If you are like me, it is the appliance that you dust once a month.)
Chicken bullion cubes come in a variety of brands. Try looking where your local grocer carries either the soups or seasonings. If possible, buy a brand that contains reduced sodium. (One thing you will NOT need to add is salt!)
Eggs come in different sizes. Don’t worry about size, it doesn’t matter for this recipe. Eggs can sometimes be purchased six to a carton, if you don’t want to purchase a dozen.
When you have everything you need available in your house, these are the steps to making the soup:
Step 1: Bring out a large coffee mug (your favorite over-sized mug), a medium size saucepan, serving spoon, and fork. (When I feel unwell, I prefer not to have a sink full of dirty dishes, so I use the minimum number of tools to prepare this soup.)
Step 2: Bring out one chicken bullion cube and one egg. (This makes soup for one person.)
Step 3: Fill mug with water, and then pour the water into the pan. (You need not measure the water exactly.) Heat water until it boils. Reduce heat so that the water gently bubbles.
Step 4: Unwrap bullion cube and drop into boiling water. (Now you have basic chicken broth.)
Step 5: Break the egg into the mug, and then stir vigorously with the fork. Add a spoon full of cold water to the egg and stir until well mixed. (Again, an exact measurement of the water is not necessary.)
Step 6: Using the spoon with one hand, gently stir the water in the pan. With the other hand, tip the mug, allowing a thin stream of the beaten egg to fall into the boiling water until all of the egg has been stirred into the water. The pan now contains thin streamers of egg in the chicken broth.
Step 7: Cook and stir gently for another minute. Turn off the burner. (If you have an electric cooking surface, then remove the pan from the stove as well.)
Step 8: Thoroughly wash the egg from the mug. (Raw egg can contain salmonella – harmful bacteria – so be sure to wash well.) Pour the soup into the mug and sip slowly.
You now have a simple, satisfying recipe to add to your home remedy cabinet. You can practice on friends or family. Then, when you are sick, you will be able to treat yourself with this simple cup of chicken soup.
Adrenaline pulsed through my body. Fear raced through my mind. My heart pounded and my hands shook. Another panic attack had hit me. I was in a safe place. Nothing threatened me, so I followed my doctor’s advice, “Take control your breathing.” I focused on the short puffs of air flowing in and out of my body. The air seemed to reach no farther than the top of my chest. I purposefully drew in more air as I inhaled and forced out more air as I exhaled. Gradually, I changed from quick, shallow breathes to long, deep ones. As I breathed more deeply, the panic attack subsided.
Why should the way we breathe matter so much? Consider the way you react when something angers you. Your breathing becomes more rapid, right? Our breathing is part of a response system to any anger, fear, or stress that affects us. Because it is part of a system, we can change other parts of that system by changing the way we breathe. Controlling our heart rate or our shaking hands – and many other parts of the response system – is difficult. However, if you focus on your breath, you will find that you can control the way you breathe. Controlling your breathing will change the way other parts of the response system are behaving. Breathing deeply is the key to controlling the whole response system.
If you are angry, afraid, or under stress, don’t tell yourself to calm down. Instead, back up and breathe deeply. Your body will thank you and you will be able to handle any situation much better.
[Note: Like anything else, breathing deeply takes practice. This simple exercise from Wikipedia can get you started.
1. Sit or lie comfortably, with loose garments.
2. Put one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
3. Slowly inhale through your nose or through pursed lips (to slow down the intake of breath).
4. As you inhale, feel your stomach expand with your hand.
5. Slowly exhale through pursed lips to regulate the release of air.
6. Rest and repeat.