When have you read a book where a recognized doctor and an award-winning inspirational writer team up to explore ways you can use your breath, movement, nutrition, and spirit to care for yourself?  Breath for the Soul is that book. 

“Combining modern science and ancient wisdom, Breath for the Soul offers evidence-based approaches to practicing self-care. Whether you need to heal or to stay well, this book offers practical advice, encouraging reminders, and inspiring thoughts that speak to your physical and spiritual nature. In Breath for the Soul, Patterson and Nichols offer ways that provide structure, flexibility, and inspiration for you as you practice self-care that becomes a lifestyle, not a checklist of things to do.” Harold G. Koenig, M.D.- Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Director, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

Dr. Jan Patterson is a cancer survivor, bereaved parent, an integrative medicine and infectious disease doctor who has practiced and taught medicine for thirty years. Phyllis Clark Nichols, a pioneer in health television, is also no stranger to suffering and has been the caregiver to her husband for ten years through three battles with cancer. They team up to inform and inspire you for self-care. No one is immune from stress, anxiety, depression, and grief. But what if there are methods that empower you to help yourself?

Breath for the Soul is a plan for self-care integrating ancient and modern practices that work, providing a practical, step-by-step approach that recognizes more than physical needs. You are a soul, a complex person, a total self, needing nurture and care. Breath for the Soul is a full toolkit of evidence-based information, inspiring stories, trusted resources, healthy recipes, and a simple plan to give you control over your self-care. Empower yourself with these simple tools using an innovative approach. Put yourself on the path to health, wellness, and wholeness.

About the Authors:

Dr. Jan Patterson – Physician, professor of medicine/infectious diseases, and trained in internal medicine and integrative medicine Vanderbilt, Yale, and Harvard

Phyllis Clark Nichols – Award winning novelist, inspirational writer, seminary graduate, popular speaker, and former cable television pioneer in health programming.  

Here’s an Excerpt:

“Focusing our minds on our breath and using intentional breathing to breath more slowly, deeply, and regularly can help control our stress response.4 This simple strategy tells our autonomic nervous system and brain, via the vagus nerve, that it is okay to turn off the stress response and turn on the relaxation response. The term vagus comes from the Latin word for wandering, and this nerve takes a wandering path from the brain to many organs in the body, including the lungs, heart, and gastrointestinal tract. 

The tone of the vagus nerve can be measured by heart-rate variability. Take your pulse as you breathe in and out. You’ll notice that your heart rate speeds up when you breathe in and slows down as you breathe out. 

The greater the difference between your inhalation heart rate and your exhalation heart rate, the higher your heart-rate variability or your vagal tone. A higher vagal tone means a more responsive parasympathetic nervous system, or relaxation response. Another measure of vagal tone is your resting heart rate. In general, the higher the vagal tone, the lower your resting heart rate. 

As we control our breathing intentionally by deep, slow, regular breathing, our bodies respond by slowing the heart rate and lowering the blood pressure. Our minds think more clearly, and we can make better decisions. We are more likely to be kind and less likely to be angry when dealing with people. 

Intentional breathing can start simply with just following the breath. Notice your inhale and your exhale. Think about breathing slowly, deeply, through your nose if you can. Place one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen. Does your abdomen expand when you are breathing, or only your chest? We tend to use only chest breathing when we are stressed or upset. For your fullest breath and best relaxation response, include your abdomen in breathing. Make your exhale a little longer than your inhale. For instance, inhale for five counts and exhale for six counts. 

Now, take a couple of breaths, and read on.”

Here’s their interview (as told by Phyllis Clark Nichols)

  • What is your book about?

Breath for the Soul is a book about self-care. Who has not dealt with stress, anxiety, depression, or grief? Often our response to these issues is to suffer through them or to seek medical attention. This book offers practical disciplines we can all practice at home: breathing techniques, good nutrition, movement, and mindfulness/spirituality. These practices do not require special equipment or spending money. They require a bit of time and discipline. This book is evidence-based and brimming with practical steps for developing your own self-care plan. 

  •  Why did you want to write this book? 

There are most certainly times when we need expert medical care and prescribed medication, but there are some additional tools in the medical toolbox that can complement Western medicine. As authors of this book, both of us have dealt with stress, anxiety, depression, and grief, and we have practiced self-care and know that these practices can bring about positive results. We simply wanted to give people some tools to empower them to give care to themselves.

  • What was the most difficult part about writing the book? The most rewarding?

We wrote this book during a pandemic when the medical community was being stretched to its limit and when the public was struggling with lifestyle changes. So many were dealing with illness due to Covid, loss of loved ones because of the virus, rampant fear and anger, and changing information and misinformation. “As an infectious disease specialist, I was taxed to my limit with caring for sick patients, encouraging my staff and colleagues, doing research, and educating the community and South Texas about the virus. My time for writing was so limited, and yet so important to me,” says Dr. Patterson.  Nichols adds, “During the two years we spent writing this book, I was caring for my husband during his third, life-threatening bout with cancer. Stress and anxiety and depression were my constant visitors. But never had Dr. Jan and I seen a time when there was a greater need for such a book to empower people.”  The real reward is the emails and letters we receive from readers who are now practicing these disciplines and are seeing good results.

  • What do you hope other people will take away from reading your book?

Our goal was to give people some simple, effective tools to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and grief. Whether it’s a new breathing technique, recipes for healthy meals, suggestions for practicing mindfulness, or encouraging a walk in the forest, or ways to meditate, we wanted to educate and encourage people to give self-care that can put them on a path to wellness – mind, body, and spirit.

  • How long did it take you to write your book?

The writing, because it involved so much research and conversation between the two of us, took almost two years. 

  • How can our readers get a copy of your book?

The book can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere you would normally purchase your books. It is in print and in ebook editions.

  • What is the best way for readers to connect with you?  

The best way is to visit our websites. We can be contacted directly there or on our social media.

For Dr. Jan Patterson:


Twitter: @drjanpatterson

For Phyllis Clark Nichols


Twitter: @PhyllisCNichols

Facebook: facebook.com/Phyllis Clark Nichols

For more information and to purchase, visit the followig websites: