Controlling stress when dealing with COPD |

Controlling stress when dealing with COPD

This is primarily aimed at those with lung disease. However, there are points that apply to all of us.

Life in today’s world is stressful enough for most everyone. Life complicated by COPD can be infinitely more stressful, for both the patient and for caregivers. Health problems add a whole new layer of worry, of uncertainty, of financial concerns. When we were running around with stone-tipped spears, a certain amount of stress was probably good. It helped to keep us from winding up as lunch for something large and tooth-intensive. We still get that same blast of adrenaline when you suddenly get short of breath or when the government does something asinine without even checking with you! Trouble is, modern stress can make you sick or exacerbate your condition, with no reward.

Here are some suggestions:

• Try to get enough sleep.

• Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can lessen feelings of stress.

• Exercise as much and as often as you can. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, and the resultant strengthening of your muscles will make breathing, moving, and yes, even the exercise itself easier.

• Organize your life. Make a list! Post upcoming events and appointments on a calendar. Write stuff down! Once committed to paper, you don’t have to remember it anymore.

• Simplify your life. What are you tripping over, walking around, or still paying for that you don’t even need? Sell it, give it to someone less fortunate, or, if it is something really ugly, leave it on your neighbor’s lawn some dark night. (Okay, maybe not…)

• Watch out for alcohol or recreational drugs

• Check with your physician about anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications that might help. Again, be careful.

• Eat wisely.

• Control your spending. Nothing kicks stress into gear like a pile of unpaid bills!

• If you can, help others. Charities or hospitals are always looking for people to help out.

Jim Nelson is a former Glenwood Springs resident who works with regional and national cardiovascular and lung organizations.

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