Survival experts apply the rules of three when it comes to surviving without life essentials. You can live for: three weeks without food; three days without water; three minutes without air.

They don’t mention how long we can live without toilet rolls…

We breathe in and out between 17,000 and 30,000 times per day. That’s 6.3 to 8.4 million breaths a year…. That’s a lot of air! Of course how we breathe, and what quality of air we breathe is of vital importance and yet outside of yoga and discussions about pollution, it is rarely discussed. Until recently, that is.

The spread of airborne Coronavirus (Covid-19) has sent ripples of fear through the world, and suddenly made everyone aware of what we are breathing in…

Have you ever realised the more stressed you are, the shallower your breathing?

Take a full breath in for a count of 5, hold for 5 and release for 5. Repeat 5 times. Do this morning and evening, and any time you feel stress. 

Efficient breathing promotes oxygen levels, which enables clearer thoughts and a reduced heart rate, especially important in this time of worldwide concern.

I am reminded of the airline advice that “In the event of an emergency, fit your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others”. Taking care of ourself and staying calm in a crisis helps us to be able to care for others.

Practicing breathing control when we don’t need it, helps us use the technique when we do, and generally helps us feels good too. It is an essential skill to help with anxiety and stress.

As Covid-19 spreads, rapidly, many people are being advised to self isolate, and often stay within the confines of their home. Knowing the importance of fresh air not only to survival but also in regulating our physiological responses, and knowing that there may be extended periods where we or our loved ones are confined to our homes, I wanted to share a simple action we can take to improve the quality of indoor air we breathe.

Grow your own fresh air

Though you wouldn’t necessarily associate NASA with indoor plants, the research institute did a study in the late ’80s on plant abilities to purify the air. NASA’s Clean Air Study was undertaken to establish the impact of the air-purifying quality of plant in addressing “sick building syndrome” and found which are the best indoor plants at removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia from our surroundings – chemicals that have been linked to adverse health effects like headaches, dizziness, eye irritation, and others.

Dr. B. C. Wolverton led the study, and according to its results, The Florist’s Chrysanthemum and Peace Lily are the best plants for purifying the air. NASA also recommended to have at least one plant per 100 square feet (10 square meters), and although this research is quite old, it is still regarded by many as the most comprehensive and accurate to date.

So my advice is quick and easy: where you can’t get outdoors to fresh air, improve the quality of your indoor air. Breathe deeply and get your calm on. Make conscious decisions, and help others where you can.

Scroll down below to check out the downloadable infographic on air purifying plants, go to your nearest garden centre and grow yourself some fresh air.

Further reading: Nasa clean-air plant studyNeurophysiological study of the effects of breathing on the brain