Did you know that an abundance of stress and worry in your life can actually make breathing more difficult, and can cause further health problems? This is true for patients that suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), though with proper stress reducing activities on a regular basis you can learn how to better manage your stress levels. Incorporating some of the following stress relievers throughout your regular daily routine will help reduce the difficulty of breathing, but most importantly improve your overall health and quality of life.
Conquering Stress with COPD
The best place to start when wanting to manage stress levels is to identify the top stressors in your life, once discovered try avoiding those things as much as possible. If you are beginning to notice an increase in your overall worries or stress levels, try implementing these tips:
- Relaxation techniques: These are great ways of shutting out the outside world and regathering your thoughts. Meditation, yoga, deep breathing, guided muscle relaxation, or mind visualization are great ways to reduce your overall stress level.
- Keep a journal: Keeping a journal of all your fears and worries is a great way of expressing difficulties you experience with your COPD, common stress factors, and any other misplaced emotions or thoughts you do not feel comfortable speaking to loved ones about. Regular journal entries even if they are just about an influx of symptoms you experienced for that day, can greatly reduce the effects felt from stress.
- Learn breathing exercises: Learning to use breathing exercises such as pursed lip breathing for times of increased breathlessness due to high stress levels, will both ease your anxiety and help you return to a regular breathing rate.
- Have a nutritious diet: Having a diet that is filled with junk food such as soda, caffeine, high amounts of sugar, and alcohol can directly impact the amount of energy you have as well as pile on additional stress.
- Be active: All the built up stress and frustration from COPD can easily be released with simple physical activities that your doctor has approved. These can range from a simple walk around the block to easy to master stretching routines.
- Talk with your doctor: If you are experiencing stress or anxiety that is unbearable due to COPD, then speak with your doctor about possible counselors you can see or if there are any medications that you can take.
When journaling your thoughts implement these tips:
- Write down all of your COPD stresses
- Next write down each of your worries for those stresses
- Then jot down positive ideas on how to deal and cope with each of those stresses
As stress is a common trigger for COPD patients to begin experiencing a more difficult time breathing, try implementing pursed lip breathing the next time you are gasping for breath:
- Ease your shoulder and neck muscles
- Inhale through your nose for 2 seconds, keeping your mouth closed
- Breathe out with pursed lips, exhaling should take twice as long as inhaling.