The declining health of a parent, the anniversary of the death of a loved one, work stress… All things out of our control and yet things which affect us emotionally. All things which may make it hard to eat, to sleep, to concentrate. Well when you have asthma, stress can affect your breathing. Stress is the enemy to asthma and anyone who has asthma needs to learn how to manage stress. And it’s hard.
Believe me. I sit here typing after having my third breathing treatment of the day. I was up all night unable to breathe. I started coughing until I gagged and vomited. Awesome, right? And why? Because rather than keeping my stress in check, I let it fester and grow until it made me physically sick.
I talk about food and health and how important it is to eat healthy to stay healthy. But emotional health is important too. I shared this with a student the other day who was very stressed. I told him to find a time in his day to regroup and breathe. And normally, I follow my own advice. There’s always time in your day. ALWAYS! Find something that calms you and make time for that. Go for a run, listen to music, go outside for fresh air. Remove yourself from the situation. Don’t let the small things become big things. Talk to a friend or loved one. Whatever it is that works for you, do that. Because nothing is more important than your health. Nothing. As for me, worrying won’t make my mom better or bring my loved one back or make that colleague any easier to work with.
If you have asthma, I challenge you to find small ways in which to work on handling the stress in your life. When I actually practice what I preach, my asthma stays in check. I saw the warning signs but I refused to stop and listen. I’ve been using my emergency inhaler so much the prescription I filled on April 4 is already empty and I can’t get another inhaler until May 4 without my doctor’s intervention. I also know that because I let things get this far and I’m bordering on bronchitis I’m probably going to be forced to take a prednisone burst. And darn it, I know better. Because now here I am beating myself up… more stress. I would laugh but that makes me cough!
So, learn from me. Not taking your health seriously can have serious consequences. Pay attention to your emotions, get rest, eat properly and follow your asthma action plan. Reminders for both you and me. Together we CAN do this! We CAN keep our asthma under control.