Identify the Cause

Identify the Cause

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Reducing Stress With Asthma

Stress is one of the most common triggers of an asthma attack. Many asthma sufferers experience symptom aggravation during a stressful period of time. The worse symptoms raise anxiety and worry, which further aggravates the symptoms. It is a vicious cycle.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to better manage stress.

1. Identify the Cause

What is the biggest cause of your stress? Many people try to ignore a stressor rather than pay attention to it and learning how to avoid it or reduce its impact. You have to identify the trigger of your stress before you can find solutions for that problem.

Make a list of the situations that are causing you the most stress. If you have financial problems, seek the advice of a financial planner. If you have problems with your spouse, try couples therapy. If you lack social support, join a forum or group. If your schedule is too busy, learn some new time management techniques.

Remember You Don't Have to be Perfect

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2. Remember You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

You don’t have to be a superhero. Give up the need to do everything, and do it perfectly. You may have too many responsibilities with work, family commitments, cleaning your home, cooking, shopping and more.

Learn how to delegate and get help from others. If your work permits consider hiring an assistant, or simply ask for help. Get a cleaning lady to help you clean the house. You can find many books or online quick and easy, yet healthy recipes that can be done in 15 minutes or less. You can buy many items online-from food to clothing and household items. Share your duties with your spouse or ask a family member or friend for help.

Eat Well

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3. Eat Well

Processed foods are loaded with sugar, fat and artificial additives. After eating fast foods you will feel sluggish and lack energy. Avoid these foods, as well as alcohol, excessive caffeine and smoking, which all can make you more anxious.

Studies have found a link between Western (fast food) diets and cognitive impairment, anxiety and depression. Fill your plate with fresh vegetables and add some high quality proteins (lean meats, fish, and beans), healthy oils (olive oil), wholesome grains, nuts and seeds. Choose fruit instead of cookies or ice cream for dessert.

Work Out Regularly

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4. Work Out Regularly

Exercise helps your body produce feel-good chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Stay motivated by keeping a fitness journal and having a gym buddy. Although exercise can induce asthma symptoms, it is important to exercise to keep your lungs and heart in shape. Seek a fitness professional to get an individualized plan just for you and adapted to your fitness levels and asthma symptoms. If you experience symptom aggravation during a workout, stop.

Sleep Well

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5. Sleep Well

Stress can make it difficult to sleep. The next day you feel tired, more stressed and irritable; it’s another vicious cycle. Avoid taking naps during the day — if you need to nap, keep it short, no more than 30 minutes. Don’t go to bed until you feel tired, and try to stick to a routine, going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and TV before bedtime. Keep your bedroom dark and unplug all electronic devices.

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Seek Support

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6. Seek Support

Social support is important, and a great stress reliever. Join a group with other asthma sufferers where you can share your experience and learn from them — no one can understand your condition like someone who also suffers from it.

Family and friends are also important because they can help you stay positive, be as active and independent as possible, go to doctors’ appointments with you and simply be with you when you have a hard time dealing with your stress and asthma symptoms.

Learn Coping Strategies

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7. Learn Coping Strategies

Learn coping strategies to avoid anxiety during an asthma attack, because it can lead to panic attacks and worsening of your condition. Make sure you have rescue medication handy at all times, know exactly how to use it and when to ask for help or go to the hospital. Have an action plan and a “to do” list in case of an emergency. Keep in mind that an asthma attack usually subsides within 5-10 minutes — if it doesn’t, get medical help.

Relaxation Techniques

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8. Relaxation Techniques

There are many relaxation techniques out there. Try a few and use one regularly. Some of the most effective include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, guided imagery and meditation. Yoga and tai chi are also great to calm your mind and reduce your stress levels, and include healthy breathing techniques.

Indulge in Me Time

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9. Indulge in 'Me' Time

Schedule in regular, quality “me” time. Think about activities that would be fun and enjoyable and allow you to empty your mind of any responsibilities for a while. You could plan to pursue a hobby, take a walk in nature, play with a pet or watch animals at the zoo. You could also spend an evening at a spa or go to a yoga retreat. By focusing on what makes you happy you will disconnect from the stress in your life.

Read more about stress and asthma over at NewLifeOutlook.

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