Our lungs are for life!
Individuals with lung diseases like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and Asthma might feel shortness of breath after exertion or even following an emotional event. Feeling short of breath can make you feel anxious. Feeling anxious can make you short of breath. Here are some tips to help you breathe easier.
First, find a comfortable position. Stay calm and let your shoulders drop away from your ears. Leaning forward and resting your arms on a table or your thighs can help put your ribcage in a more relaxed position to ease the muscles of breathing.
Pursed Lip Breathing
Try to slow your breathing by inhaling through your mouth at first and exhaling through pursed lips, as if you were blowing out a candle. The breath out should last 2-3 times longer than the breath in. As your breathing slows, inhale through your nose and exhale through pursed lips.
If you are in a public space when you experience shortness of breath, well-meaning individuals may come close and offer help. This can lead to more anxious feelings followed by more shortness of breath. Close your eyes and focus on the air moving in and out of your lungs to tune out the distractions in your environment to ease your breathing faster.
Your brain is only able to focus well on one thing at a time. Putting your focus on the air entering your lungs and the stresses leaving through pursed lips as you exhale will help your breathing return to normal more quickly. Practicing pursed lip breathing when you are relaxed will help you to easily use this technique when you need it in cases of suddenly feeling anxious and short of breath.
Living a healthy lifestyle will help you deal with both the physical and emotional challenges of the day. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, getting a good night’s sleep, pacing yourself with activity as well as getting regular exercise will all help you to enjoy better breathing.
Tracy Bonifacio, BSc., RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist)
INSPIRED COPD Program
Burlington and Caroline FHT