How to Reduce Stress for Better Asthma Control

Stress Free & Better Asthma Control

Health Strategies To Be Stress Free. Photo Disc

The relationship between stress and asthma is complicated.

Stress alone can lead to increased asthma symptoms such as:

Stress can also lead to breathlessness all by itself. Numerous studies have demonstrated that stress makes asthma symptoms worse and it may make you less likely to take your medication. However, not all stress is a bad thing.

Stress is a part of our daily lives and it is unlikely any of us can completely go stress free. The key becomes learning how to avoid unhealthy stress and learning how to be proactive in manging the stress of your asthma and daily life.

Breathe Easier By Managing Stress

Buteyko Breathing Exercises
Buteyko Breathing Exercises. Photo © Photodisc

Breathing exercises are one way that you can not only manage stress, but also improve your asthma.

Buteyko breathing method is the only complementary and alternative medicine treatment recognized by the British Guideline on the Management of Asthma 2008. The method was given a class "B" recommendation meaning there is evidence it may be helpful for some patients with asthma. The guidelines state the “Buteyko breathing technique may be considered to help patients to control the symptoms of asthma.”

Exercise Often

Exercise Induced Asthma
Exercise Induced Asthma. Photo © A.D.A.M

Exercise is essential for your overall health and helps keep weight normal, prevent obesity, and decrease cardiovascular risks. When endorphin levels increase as a result of exercise, mood, sleep, and energy levels all improve. In terms of your asthma that may be enough to improve your asthma control.

Some activities such as endurance activities are more likely to produce asthma symptoms compared to more leisurely activities like hiking or biking. If team sports are essential for you, sports that require short bursts of activity like football or baseball are less likely to make your asthma worse.


Health Strategies To Be Stress Free. Photo Disc

Meditation provides me significant benefits such as:

  • Decreasing stress
  • Improved well being
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased happiness
  • Better focus and concentration

Many people never try meditation because they feel it is too difficult or place some sort of stigma around it.

I began using this simple 4 minute meditation to start my workday. I try to do this everyday and failed often in the beginning. However, like when I fail to exercise, I really notice a difference in how my day goes when I stick to this habit. The four minute meditation is completed in the following steps:

1. Close your eyes and relax in a quiet place. I sit in my office with only a desk lamp on before I start my day. You may want to play some soft music in the background. Having done meditation in many places now, I find that it always goes better when I am in a a comfortable chair. I use a timer on my iPhone with a soft ring to tell me when to proceed to the next stage. Each stage is one minute and has a specific task. When the ringer goes off move to the next task.
2. Begin by focusing on your breathing for 10 breaths. As you take deep breaths be very aware of the movement of your diaphragm and abdomen.
3. In minute 1, focus on releasing tension from your body and try to 'think of nothing.' You want to let go of everything and as thoughts will inevitably come to mind-- just let them go.
4. When the alarm chimes for minute two begin focusing on the positive things in your life.  
5. As the alarm chimes for minute 3,  I focus my attention on the people and things I am specifically thankful for.
6.  As the last alarm chimes I turn my focus to the big things I want to get done today and overall.


Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga. AAGAMIA/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Yoga has been shown in small trials to decrease the number of asthma attacks patients experience as well as decreases in medication use and improvements in FEV1. Patients participating in yoga have also demonstrated improved quality of life.

Continue Reading