Suggestions for how you can reduce stress
1. Establish a routine
Having a regular routine helps maintain balance in your life and increases your sense of control. In your routine, you should include activities you need to do as well as fun enjoyable activities that you can look forward to.
2. Eat well and drink plenty of water
Your body will perform best when you eat well and drink plenty of water. However, if you have been advised to restrict fluids, you should follow this advice.
3. Exercise regularly
Talk with your pulmonary rehabilitation facilitator about the type, frequency and intensity of exercise that is right for you. Find out how to progress your exercise program as you improve, and plan regular exercise into your routine.
If you have completed a pulmonary rehabilitation program, see if there is a Lungs In Action program near you where you can continue to exercise (www.lungsinaction.com.au). If possible, exercise earlier in the day so as not to disturb your sleep.
4. Get plenty of sleep
Establish a regular bedtime. A warm bath, shower or milk drink before bed may improve your sleep. If you can’t get to sleep after twenty minutes of being in bed, get out of bed and do a quiet activity until you feel tired.
5. Limit your use of alcohol and other drugs
Many people use drugs and alcohol to help manage their stress. For example, some people use alcohol and cigarettes to calm down and other people may use coffee, cola or energy drinks to get themselves going. However, drugs and alcohol can have harmful effects on people and can result in dependence.
6. Maintain your social network
People with chronic conditions who have few friends and don’t get out much may have worse health outcomes. Getting out and catching up with friends is important and you should plan to do this regularly.
7. Join a local patient support group
Contact Lung Foundation Australia to find out about patient support groups near you (phone: 1800 654 301 or visit the website: www.lungfoundation.com.au). If a patient support group has not been established in your area, Lung Foundation Australia can help you to start one.
8. Maintain interests and hobbies
Often people who have chronic conditions let go of interests and hobbies because they believe the effort outweighs the benefits. Participating in enjoyable activities can give life meaning and can help you maintain and enhance your skills and abilities.
9. Be aware of automatic or unhelpful thinking and self-talk
When life is busy or stressful, you may respond to events without stopping to consider your response. Before responding, stop and take some deep breaths, count to 10, or go for a short walk and consider whether you need to respond and how you will respond.
10. Planning and time management
People who plan how they will apply the skills they have learnt in pulmonary rehabilitation to their home or work life are more likely to use these skills in their daily lives. Effective time management is essential for maintaining your health, work, social and home life. Spread tasks, or parts of tasks, across several days, and build time into your schedule for unexpected events.
11. Communicate effectively
Effective communication includes both speaking and listening. Often when you feel under pressure, you can spend all your time speaking or thinking about what you want to say rather than listening. Take the time to listen to what is being said before responding. Assertive communication requires honest and direct discussion that describes the problem, the effect and the solution.
12. Practice relaxed breathing
When stressed, or experiencing strong emotions most people tend to breathe faster and shallower; this type of breathing can lead to a feeling of breathlessness and sometimes panic breathing. People who have COPD can minimise the risk of becoming breathless during times of stress or high emotion, by using the relaxed breathing techniques.