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Coping with COPD: Reduce Stress

Unavoidable factors in daily life, stress and anxiety can have a particularly negative effect on those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In particular, stress and anxiety can cause shortness of breath, cause COPD symptoms to become worse and lead to further anxiety, faster breathing and fear.

However, by developing effective ways to manage stress and learning to relax, you can help prevent shortness of breath and avoid panic. The Cleveland Clinic suggests the following techniques to effectively manage stress:

Learn to change thought patterns that produce stress. Your thoughts determine how you feel and how well you manage stress levels. By altering what you think, how you think, what you expect and what you tell yourself, stress can be properly managed.

Reduce causes of stress. By identifying major stressors in your life, such as money problems, relationship problems, grief, deadlines at work, a busy schedule or lack of support, you can avoid situations that trigger stress for you. Further, by practicing effective time-management skills, setting priorities, pacing yourself and taking time for yourself, you can resolve these issues. However, if you can’t resolve these stressors on your own, seek professional help.

Practice relaxation exercises. Simple to perform, relaxation exercises combine deep breathing, releasing of muscle tension and clearing of negative thoughts. Exercises include diaphragmatic and pursed-lip breathing, imagery, repetitive phrases and progressive muscle relaxation. If practiced regularly, these exercises can lessen the negative effects of stress. For more specific information on these exercises, commercial CDs and books are a valuable resource.

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