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Stress and Asthma


How to Manage Stress With Asthma continued...

Get Plenty of Sleep. With asthma or any chronic illness, you need plenty of sleep. If you are not sleeping well or suffer with nighttime asthma, you will have less energy and fewer resources for coping with stress. Developing good sleep habits is very important. Here are seven sleep tips:

  1. Do not go to bed until you are tired.
  2. Develop specific bedtime rituals and stick to them.
  3. If you have trouble sleeping, do not watch TV, read, or eat in bed.
  4. Do not engage in exercise or strenuous activity in the hours before bedtime.
  5. Avoid caffeine.
  6. Do not nap.
  7. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including on weekends.

Eat a Healthy Diet. Junk food and refined sugars low in nutritional value and high in calories can leave you feeling out of energy and sluggish. Limiting sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can promote health and reduce stress.

Delegate Responsibility. Stress often results from having too many responsibilities. You can free up time and decrease stress by delegating responsibilities. Take a team approach and involve everyone in sharing the load. Try applying these eight guidelines at home or modifying them to fit your situation at work:

  1. Make a list of the types of tasks involved in the job.
  2. Take time to train someone to do the job or specific tasks.
  3. Assign responsibility to a specific person.
  4. Rotate unpleasant duties.
  5. Give clear, specific instructions with deadlines.
  6. Be appreciative; let people know you are pleased by a job well done.
  7. Allow others to do a job their own way.
  8. Give up being a perfectionist.

Seek Support. Life is tough sometimes and support from friends and family members is important. In fact, social support is the single most important cushion/shield against stress. Here are some tips you can offer to family or friends when they ask how they can help. Family and friends can do the following:

  1. Help you remain as active and independent as possible.
  2. Provide emotional support.
  3. Help with household chores and with grocery shopping and other errands as necessary.
  4. Learn what they can about your condition and prescribed treatment by attending doctors' appointments with you.
  5. Provide encouragement and help you follow your prescribed asthma treatment plan.  

Practice Relaxation Exercises. Relaxation exercises combine deep breathing, releasing of muscle tension, and clearing of negative thoughts. If you practice these exercises regularly, you can use relaxation exercises when needed to lessen the negative effects of stress. Relaxation exercises include diaphragmatic and pursed lip breathing, imagery, repetitive phrases (repeating a phrase that triggers a physical relaxation, such as "relax and let go"), and progressive muscle relaxation. Many commercial CDs and books that teach these exercises are available.

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