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COPD: Coping with Stress

Life can be full of stress, especially when you’re managing a health condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Just living every day with the symptoms of COPD and adjusting to limitations because of symptoms can cause anxiety, depression, and stress, which can make breathing more difficult.

These can be in addition to things that would trigger stressful feelings in anyone, such as family arguments, rush-hour traffic, or too many bills to pay. The first step in handling stress is to identify your stress triggers.

The way you react to those triggers determines how stress affects you. Unmanaged stress can cause headaches, digestive troubles, sleep problems, and high blood pressure. It can make you feel irritable, depressed, or hopeless. It’s important to learn healthy ways to relieve stress. These tips can help get you started:

  • Relax your body and mind. Try to exercise daily. Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or positive imagery, for at least 15 minutes a day.

  • Learn to say no. Give yourself the time you need to get things done. That way you won’t take on too much.

  • Make time to talk. Talk with friends, attend a support group, or see a mental health counselor. That can help you feel a little less overwhelmed.

If your stress level feels overwhelming, be certain to talk with your doctor or a mental health professional. Getting your stress under control will help you manage your COPD.