Breathe. Now through a mask. The irony of this pandemic is how much it relates to our breathing. With my chronic cough, breathing is not an idle issue, so perhaps I am more sensitive to the effects than others. I figure if  I get Covid, I’m in deeper trouble than most. But this concern about breathing is not just about me.

When we first descended into this new reality in March, it was clearly not a sprint but a marathon to reach the other side. Now, it appears to be more than a marathon. It is a triathalon with all phases at once. We swim through the pandemic. Meanwhile, we ride the race for the economy, while also running marathon of testing, tracing and finding and administering a vaccine. It takes stamina to do all that. It takes stamina to do a triathalon. And, it all starts with how we breathe.

We need oxygen to breathe. We need the oxygen to get to all our organs and all the way to the brain. When we get anxious, we breathe more shallowly and less oxygen gets to our brains.That leads to poor decisions. If we are conscious of our breathing, we can slow it down and breath more deeply, getting more oxygen to keep going with our triathalon. Get the rest you need. Sleep more. Breathe consciously, have some fun safely.

As we take care of ourselves against Covid, we must also take away its oxygen, its fuel. We do that by social distancing, by wearing masks. When a mask interferes with breathing, slow down. We swim the economy forward by making good and safe decisions to help each other. We lean in on the government at the local and national level to work together to push the economy without endangering lives. It is clear that without masks and social distancing, we will sink, not swim. Finally, we must run across the finish line of testing, tracing and a vaccine for everyone.

Start with breathing and hang in there. Keep up the discipline of social distancing. We have a long way to go.