Don’t you immediately feel more relaxed just looking at this picture? The mind-body connection is hard to argue with. On the downside, emotional distress can make physical conditions worse. But on the good side, techniques like visualization can make things better.
COPD and air hunger
And nowhere is this more evident than the lung condition COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder). People with COPD have trouble breathing. They experience a very intense shortness of breath, which is often called “air hunger.” Just the name gives you a sense of the depth of the craving!
Anxiety and COPD
Not surprisingly, people often get very anxious when they have COPD. They constantly feel like they cannot get enough oxygen. They take quick, short breaths and never fully exhale out the “old’ air. As a result, there is less and less room for inhaling new air that is filled with oxygen. It’s a downward spiral.
This is anxiety is extremely wearing, for the patient. It’s also difficult for family members to witness. They feel helpless and worried.
Short circuiting the downward spiral
Fortunately, there are simple things you can do as a family caregiver to assist your loved one to relax, deeper breathing can occur. More oxygen rich air enters the lungs, which reduces anxiety and allows for even more deep breathing. Instead of a downward spiral, you can reverse the trend.
One of the easiest activities you can do with your loved one is to visualize a calm, easy atmosphere. (I’m heading to this beach!) Sit together in a quiet room, eyes closed, and describe the scene using all your senses. How does the air feel? What does it smell like? What do you hear? What do you see? Are there any special tastes that come to mind? (I’ll have a coconut water, please.)
So if the person you care for has breathing anxiety, try a visualization. (Heck, if you’ve just had a really tough day, do it for yourself!) Check out other tips for breathing anxiety in our article on COPD.
And if you’d like help with advocacy or a care plan for your loved one, give us a call at [Your Phone Number]. We understand COPD and the stress it puts on everyone in the family.