You Need To Relax When You Have Asthma

Incorporate These Activities To Decrease Stress and Improve Asthma

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 regularly. All of this can worsen your asthma control.

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.

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.

Learn Relaxation Techniques

While there are a number of different techniques such as journaling or reciting positive affirmations, just slowing down and being more present may also help. Spend a few minutes just enjoying being at the ball park with your kids or how much you appreciate your thoughtful coworkers.

Rather than multi tasking, just focus on what you are doing, sensing or feeling right now for about 5 minutes.

Spending time in the moment and focusing on those thoughts , feelings, and senses will often relieve stress.

Meditate

Meditation provides a number of benefits for your asthma induced stress. When you practice meditation a number of things happen in your body.

Your:

  • Heart rate decreases
  • Respiratory rate decreases
  • Adrenal gland produces less of the stress hormone cortisol
  • Brain is more focused and creative

One quick meditation is the quiet mind exercise. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Many people find it useful to place their hand on their abdomen and focus on the up and down movement of the hand.

Quiet the voice in your head from focusing on your current problems and trying to solve those problems. If the thoughts you are trying to quiet come up, simply refocus on your breathing.

Many patients find benefits immediately and notice immediate short term stress reduction.

Breathing Exercises

For an asthmatic breathing exercises can have two benefits. Not only does focused breathing tend to lessen stress (it is very similar to meditation in many ways), but it may also improve your asthma.

In this exercise, you can walk through a simple exercise that will help you control your breathing. I find that simply concentrating and monitoring my own breathing often decreases stress levels and calms the mind.

Improve Your Organizational Skills

Lack of organization can lead to inherent stress. Adding structure to your chaos may just improve your stress levels. See if any of these time management practices might help you get more time back from your day and decrease your stress levels.

Improve Your Sleep

Many patients tell me they just will never get the 7–9 hours of sleep the National Sleep Foundation says most adults need.

Even if you can’t get more sleep, a regular sleep schedule (e.g. Going to bed at the same time every night) may help improve your stress levels.

I have also had patients that used a positive affirmation technique at bedtime that helps them awake refreshed. These patients simply focus on their breathing and the actively focus on awakening refreshed by stating things like “I will awake refreshed even though I am only going to get 5 hours of sleep” or “I will awake full of energy and ready to start my day.”

Much to my surprise this has significantly improved my patients interpretation of their own sleep patterns, energy levels in the morning, and their perceived restfulness of the nights sleep.

Schedule Some Fun Time

Have you ever thought “why can’t I just be happier?”

We get so caught up in the day to day of work, school, families and then add a chronic illness on top of all that like asthma– it is not surprising that our happiness quotient might be a little lacking. This could be different things to different people.


Our happiness can be effected by the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual activities in our lives. Scheduling time for a bike ride, spending some time reading, going to a bible study or diving into a hobby are examples from each of the areas that can be great stress relief.

Improve Your Eating Habits

You are what you eat.

Eating poorly can lead to stress, depression and overall poor mental health. Unhealthy diets, defined as large amounts of sugar and processed foods, are associated with anxiety symptoms. Additionally, high levels of stress may make you more inclined to seek sugary foods for energy.

Laugh More

Laughing is healthy and most of us do not get enough of it. Laughing releases similar endorphins and other hormones to those released by physical exercise. Additionally, the laughter simply takes your mind off stressful events that may be weighing on you.

What Is Your Biggest Asthma Problem?

We want to help you get control of your asthma. I want to hear about your biggest asthma problem so that we can try to help you develop a solution or better understand how to help.
 You are probably not the only one with the problem. Take a few minutes describing your problem so we can develop a solution together.

Sources

  1. American Psychological Association. Stress Effects On The Body. Accessed on May 23, 2015.

  2. Felice N. Kacka, Nicolas Cherbuin, Kaarin J. Anstey, Peter Butterworth Dietary Patterns and Depressive Symptoms over Time: Examining the Relationships with Socioeconomic Position, Health Behaviours and Cardiovascular Risk. PLOS ONE January 29, 2014. Accessed on May 23, 2015.
  3. Bennett MP, Lengacher C. Humor and Laughter May Influence Health: III. Laughter and Health Outcomes. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, March 2008. Accessed on May 23, 2015.
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma Accessed on May 23, 2015.

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