7 Ways to Combat Asthma and Stress

The link between asthma and stress has long been recognized, and both psychological and physical causes of stress can affect your respiratory system. For instance, self-esteem issues, depression, anger, anxiety, illness, fatigue, and even side effects from medication can all affect your breathing and, in some cases, leave you wheezing.

Scientists from the University of Texas in Houston who looked at this issue discovered that a variety of stress management techniques can help to control asthma symptoms.  They presented this information at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology annual meeting in the winter of 2010.

7 Steps to Manage Asthma and Stress

Here are some simple things you can do to manage your stress level and keep your asthma in check:

  1. Practice time management skills to help you handle your responsibilities so you won't feel so overwhelmed. You don't have to take on tasks alone; ask for help when you need it. Even young children can help with folding laundry or salad prep for dinner.
  2. Take things slow and easy so you don't get burned out too quickly.
  3. Make time to relax. Sometimes just having a short break from the demands of your day can help you feel refreshed.
  4. Get moving. Engaging in regular exercise is important to burn off stress.
  5. Get plenty of sleep. When you're well rested, it will be easier to deal with the demands of daily life. As a result, you may find your asthma seems more controlled.
  6. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Practicing yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation can be effective ways to reduce the tension on your mind and body caused by anxiety and stress.
  7. Make an effort to eat a balanced diet and steer away from processed sugar, caffeine, and alcohol—all of which can make your body feel short on energy and high on stress. When you limit empty calories and focus instead on eating plenty of lean protein, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, you can help manage your daily stress level and feel your best.

Keep in mind that while you're not going to eliminate all stress, doctors say that the best thing you can do is to take steps to help keep it under control. You should also follow your asthma action plan to stay on top of your symptoms. Finally, when your stress level feels like more than you can handle on your own, seek professional help from your doctor, mental health counselor, or other professional who can help you come up with a stress management plan that will leave you breathing easy.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Patient Education Counselor