Avoid These COPD Triggers

Get a handle on stress and breathe easier

Photo: Black & white photo of man's hand holding a computer key "Help".

You probably know to avoid secondhand smoke and pollen to help avoid COPD flare-ups, but managing stress is another important part of helping yourself breathe easier with COPD.

1 Identify stress
Stress is correlated to sleep issues and less physical energy. For people with COPD, it can cause rapid, panicked breathing or full flare-ups. COPD might keep you from doing hobbies, and that's weighing on your mind. Also, don't be afraid to take time getting dressed and showering, both of which are multi-step tasks that can add fatigue and stress.

2 Break the cycle
Taking care of emotions is as important as taking care of your body. Feeling down about managing COPD can trigger a flare-up.

3 Ask for help
Be realistic about the tasks you can take on while managing symptoms, and ask for help. In fact, you will be able to do more if you don't try to do it all.

4 Just say no
Just as you'd avoid a smoky room, keep away from people, places, and situations that have upset you in the past. Turn your focus to friends and family who are genuinely supportive of what you are going through.

5 Follow your plan
Taking control of COPD can reduce stress about your condition. Follow the plan you made with your doctor, and let them know if your symptoms interfere with eating, sleeping, or exercising.

6 Make time for fun
COPD can sap energy, but resist the urge to avoid spending time with people you enjoy. Schedule relaxing activities, like playing cards. You'll have fun and a chance to share feelings—good and bad.