You Need To Relax When You Have Asthma

Incorporate These Activities to Decrease Stress and Improve Asthma

Father playing with his son
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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 ballpark with your kids or how much you appreciate your thoughtful co-workers.

Rather than multitasking, 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. 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 think 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.

You could also try using a positive affirmation technique at bedtime that will help you awake refreshed. Focus on your breathing and then actively focus on awakening refreshed by stating thing 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.” This has the potential to significantly improve your interpretation of your own sleep patterns, energy levels in the morning, and your perceived restfulness of the night's 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 affected 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.

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