Things To Do When Asthma Stresses You Out

What Do You Do When Stress Amps Up?

Asthma and Anxiety
Asthma and Anxiety. Brand X Pictures

Stress worsens asthma for many patients. By itself, stress can make you feel out of breath. Stress may also contribute to not taking asthma medications.

Stress is part of our daily lives and it is unlikely that you can eliminate all stress from your life. In fact, not all stress is bad. Some stress can lead to increased productivity.

However, you must avoid unhealthy stress, manage stress that you cannot avoid, and learn strategies to relax and prevent asthma symptoms.

The pathophysiology of stress and asthma leads your body to release chemicals such as histamines that result in inflammatory reactions and symptoms such as chest tightness, cough, shortness of breath, or wheezing.

Exercise Regularly

Talk with your doctor about what kinds of exercise you can do regularly with your asthma. Whatever exercise you like, from aerobics to yoga, can benefit your stress levels. Exercise raises endorphin levels, improves mood, improves sleep and helps you raise energy levels. Exercise is also an effective may to prevent obesity, which has negative effects on asthma and stress levels.

Learn Relaxation Techniques

While there are a number of different techniques such as journaling or reciting positive affirmations, just slowing down may also help.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises not only help you manage stress, but they may also help get your asthma under control.

Buteyko breathing method was recognized as possibly helpful by the British Guideline on the Management of Asthma 2008. The class "B" recommendation means that breathing exercises may be helpful for some patients with asthma. The guidelines stated the “Buteyko breathing technique may be considered to help patients to control the symptoms of asthma.”

Meditate

Simple meditation can provide significant benefits toy your health and well being. Many never even give meditation a try because they feel it might be too difficult.

Try this simple 4 minute meditation that I have utilized to help lessen my stress levels. I try to do this daily and, like when I fail to exercise, really notice a difference.

  1. Close your eyes and relax. I prefer to have the lights and low and others will prefer some soft music in the background. A comfortable chair is also good.
  2. Take deep breaths focusing on movement of your diaphragm and abdomen.
  3. Focus on relasing tension from your body for one minute and try to focus on ‘thinking of nothing.’ As thoughts come into your mind let them go.
  4. For minute two I try to focus on positive things in my life.
  5. For minute 3 I focus on people and things I am thankful for.
  6. For minute four I focus on big things I want to get done.

Yoga

Yoga is a mindfullness practice that falls under a complementary medicine technique. It has many techniques, poses and types.

It also focuses heavily on breathing. Many of my patients have found the Hatha techniques easy and enjoyable to start with.

Breathing Techniques

Breathing training improves quality of life in asthma patients and it may or may not decrease the need for regular anti-inflammatory medication treatment with inhaled steroids and improve your asthma control.

Become an Asthma Expert

While all the aforementioned practices will help you decrease your stress levels, becoming an asthma expert will help you decrease your asthma stress. Make sure that you have an asthma action plan. This guide will instruct you how to avoid asthma triggers and what to do about your medication management. Having a road map and knowing what to do when you develop asthma symptoms will decrease your overall stress level about asthma.

Asthma requires multiple medications that are taken for different reasons. Depending on your current control and your asthma symptoms you will be taking different combinations of your meds. Asa result, it is essential to know the difference between your rescue inhaler and your controller medication. Similarly,  how often you take each medication and knowing when if you’re over using your medications are essential for good control and keeping your asthma anxiety low.

 Other strategies for lowering your asthma anxiety are engaging your family. Your family can provide needed social support and help. All chronic health care conditions can be difficult to manage and families can help understand the disease.

Finally, there are other lifestyle modifications that you can make that will not only improve your overall health, but will help improve your asthma. Losing weight, quitting smoking, and exercising more are all lifestyle modifications that will help improve your asthma. These are some of the most difficult lifestyle changes people make, but doing these things will lead to better control of your asthma. While lifestyle change is difficult, takes time and sacrifice on your part, it will lead to fewer symptoms and better control of your asthma.

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