Stress is a natural part of life as, at one time or another, we all face tense or anxious situations. A loved one passes away. We get divorced. We have money troubles. We’re the victim of a crime.
If we don’t cope with these types of life events effectively, the Mayo Clinic reports that we risk developing conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Or our blood pressure gets harder to control.
However, for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stress can have an even more negative effect. For instance, one study found that people with COPD were more depressed after stressful life situations more so than those without COPD. The stress also affected their breathing ability and brain function.
This makes relieving stress critical to increasing the quality of life for COPD sufferers. Fortunately, there are many effective options when it comes to reducing tension and improving health. Here are seven to consider.
1. Mix Fresh Air and Activity
There’s something about being out in the fresh air that helps you clear your mind. And when you mix it with some type of physical activity, you can almost feel the stress escape from your body.
Go for a walk. Play with the dog in the backyard. Throw a frisbee to your kids or grandkids. It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous. Just get outdoors and get active.
2. Enhance Your Spirituality
Many people find that increasing their spirituality helps them deal with the stressors that life tends to throw their way. It gives them something bigger to believe in, something to rely on for guidance and hope when the going gets tough.
Though most people equate spirituality with religion, you don’t necessarily have to believe in a higher power to enjoy this benefit. Spirituality can also involve getting more in tune with nature, or feeling a greater connection to the earth and sky.
3. Get Acupuncture
Some studies also have found that engaging in acupuncture can help lower stress. Presumably, it does this by positively impacting the hormones associated with the stress response.
Therefore, if you are open to trying this form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), you may find that it leaves you feeling more relaxed.
4. Talk it Out
Have you ever had a conversation with a good friend or family member and felt much better for it? If so, then you’ve already experienced the stress-relieving value of talking through whatever is bothering you.
If you don’t have someone you can trust with your innermost thoughts, speaking with a counselor or therapist is another option. Sometimes, just saying your troubles aloud is enough to help reduce their power and hold on you.
5. Keep a Journal
Another way to let go of the things that are making you anxious is to write them in a journal. This way, you can get them out of your mind, even if you don’t have someone to immediately listen to them.
Plus, journaling gives you a place to record your biggest fears and most private thoughts without worrying about how they make you sound. You don’t risk being judged for your beliefs because the only one who will ever know about them is you.
6. Practice Breathing Exercises
The American Institute of Stress reports that one of the easiest ways to lower your stress levels and create a “relaxation response” is to practice breathing exercises. Ideally, they say that you should do this at least twice a day (or whenever you’re feeling stressed out).
One effective breathing exercise involves physically smiling while letting go of the tension in your shoulders. Then, inhale a deep breath while imagining hot air entering your body through holes in the bottom of your feet, traveling upward through your body, where it eventually fills your lungs.
Next, release the air while picturing it taking the reverse route, traveling downward through your core and legs, exiting through the soles of your feet. Do this anytime you feel stressed and you should notice a difference immediately.
7. Listen to Soothing Music
Finally, another great way to relax your body is to listen to music that soothes your soul. Depending on your style, this may be classical music, country, rock, rap, or anything in between.
If you feel up to it, it may even help to get up and dance around. Get lost in the music, if only for a moment, and give your mind a much-needed break from the outside world. Singing along to your favorite tune has also been proven to help relax and with breathing.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like COPD, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Health Institute offers a variety of cellular therapy options. Contact us today!