Pandemic diary 17: Breathing tricks

It's a box so I'm going inside it as is the rule.

Facebook is annoying in so many ways but it's got enough witty/smutty banter with friends and a few useful groups to ensure that I stick with it. And I have to use it for work – so there is no escape.

Fake news is rife on the platform, so always check sources. This video was shared by a friend and seemed useful info on how to help improve your chances with some breathing techniques. But is it correct?



  • Deep breath + hold for 5 sec– do this five times.
  • Deep breath + cough into cloth – once
  • Repeat above steps a second time.


  • Breathe slightly deeper than normal for 10 minutes.


As a sub-editor, I've spent a career fact-checking supplied information. This doctor does exist but the YouTube channel isn't official so it's probably not official info. The technique was publicly recommended by author JK Rowling as helping her (unconfirmed Covid-19) symptoms, so that's why it has gone viral.

Fact check

But is the info correct? Answer: it can help but it's certainly not for everyone – it needs context and individual assessment.

There are some key instructions missing, like breathing in through the nose not the mouth. And, according to the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care (ACPRC), you should only do 3-4 in-breaths/holds to avoid dizziness.

Full Fact has done the full sub-editor's copy check – read it here.

For me, doing this technique is more to do with mental strength and having something to do that makes you feel you are helping. I've often got through turbulence-driven panics on planes, for example, by doing a 10-count Buddhist breathing meditation I learnt years ago. Having a coping mechanism is important for anyone prone to anxiety or panic attacks.

In summary, this video may not be factually correct but I still think it will help a lot of people.

Today I am thankful for… warm sunshine and an Easter holiday (albeit without chocolate).

Hire/commission me: fiona [at]