1. Accept the emotion
Allowing the emotion to come and go without judgement can help to alleviate stress; buildups, provisional clinical psychologist Victoria Tarrat says “Suppressing your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body. The effect is the same, even if the core emotion differs, we know that it can affect blood pressure, memory and self-esteem.”
Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness can create chronic stress which upsets the body’s hormone balance, depleting the brain chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin) required for happiness, subsequently damaging your immune system. As best said by Simon-Thomas “Our thoughts and emotions have widespread effects on bodily processes like metabolism, hormone release, and immunue function”.
Growing research suggests that negative emotions and thoughts may also have links to other serious health problems, like heart disease. In 2013, a study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester showed people who bottled up their emotions increased their chance of premature death from all causes by more than 30%, with their risk of being diagnosed with cancer increasing by 70%. We know that is a scary statistic, all the more reason to start positively processing emotions instead of bottling them up! One of our tac. team members Maiya says “Personally, l find that identifying the emotion when it comes up helps to calm my anxiety… It is always reassuring to know yourself inside out”.
In correlation to Asthma, stress, anxiety and a negative mindset are well known triggers of the disease. Asthma and Allergy foundation of America states, “There is evidence of a link between asthma, anxiety and depression, though the outcomes are sometimes not consistent. Anxiety and depression may be associated with poor asthma control”
Internatisling strong emotions may cause asthma symptoms, especially when it correlates to breathing, such as hyperventilating. Each breath, no matter if you are an asthmatic, is dictated by your emotions.
It is generally not the emotion itself that causes asthma symptoms. Instead, your breathing is relevant to your emotions at that time. This causes your muscles to tighten up and your breathing rate to increase.
Whilst strong emotions can lead to asthma symptoms (or sometimes an attack), these ‘strong emotions’ such like laughing are the joys of life and should not be discouraged or avoided. If laughter or excitement is a trigger for you, talk with your health-care provider about your asthma treatment.
Emotions such as stress and anxiety also can lead to asthma symptoms. By managing stress you can reduce the risk of an induced attack or episode. Studies suggest being mindful and practising breathing techniques can lead to gaining control and management of your asthma.
It’s essential that even with asthma every human lives their life to the fullest, even when crying. Find ways to stay calm and express yourself, if you feel you are ‘triggered’ take the necessary steps to avoid symptoms. Remember to breathe deeply and move away from people, occasions and times of stress, as this is not only bad for asthma but your mental health and overall emotions.
2. Understand the cause of the emotion
“Many negative emotions such as anger, fear, and frustration become problematic when those emotions turn into a more permanent disposition or a habitual outlook on the world,” explains Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD, science director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. We find this quote explains perfectly that undealt with emotions will bring up negative outlooks. A 2014 study published in the journal Neurology linked high levels of cynicism later in life, i.e. a general distrust of people (and their motives), to a greater risk of dementia compared to those who were more trusting, even after accounting for other risk factors like age, sex, certain heart health markers, smoking status, and more.
Some examples of strong emotions that can trigger asthma symptoms are:
It is important to recognize the cause of all your emotions, especially in correlation with asthma, as they can be an emotional trigger. These understandings can sometimes help us move away from the trigger to find peace and deeper breaths. Ultimately it’s important for you to identify what your trigger is! Is it when you’re surrounded by a lot of people as a form of anxiety? Is it when someone mentions a specific topic? Is it when you’re at school or work and are rushing a deadline? If we are prepared for the causes of our emotions, we can make smarter decisions, and hopefully avoid what sends us into an episode. Preparation is key to relieving these stresses.
3. Make peace with your response
Once you have understood the cause of the emotion, you may start to guide your reactions more intuitively. Alternatively, you may not be able to guide your reaction but reflecting on why you reacted that way may help you find peace and acceptance. No more cringing at your past actions! There is only growth from here. As provisional clinical psychologist Victoria Tarra says, “when you’re driving the car a few weeks later and someone cuts you off, you can get all-out road rage… That explosion and overreaction to a situation is your body’s way of releasing that pent-up emotion.” Understanding is key, no more stifling negative feelings and replacing them with positive without processing them first.
A study from the University of Texas actually found that not acknowledging our emotions only makes them stronger. The best thing we can do is ask ourselves “why” why is this emotion coming up, what have i been triggered by and what can l do to get past this emotion.
Making peace with your emotions is also accepting that you have asthma (and or allergies). Unfortunately, as we know there is no cure, asthma eventually becomes a way of life. Although we can take steps into becoming a healthier Asthmatic (see tac.’s tips and tricks on flow), there is no ultimate way to tell if an attack is upcoming or how to immediately “switch off” that attack. Ways we can accept and move forth with this disease is preparing ourselves for such events; reducing any worry, anxiety or ‘triggers’. Firstly it’s imperative we keep medication on hand, whether this is your Ventolin, steroid puffer, prednisolone or nebuliser; having a medical box or place where you keep on hand medication in case of an attack can provide a huge sense of relief. Second is an action plan, please go and speak to a medical professional in creating a plan for yourself, and carry this on hand. This again, can provide great relief not only to you but others around you (family, friends, colleges) in case of an attack. Thirdly, it’s important to educate the people around you. Don’t be afraid to tell your best friend, partner, teacher or boss that you have asthma (& or allergies). It’s important to feel safe in your environment, and this cannot be done unless people know the correct ways to help YOU.
3. Self care
Psychologists say our “self talk” or “internal dialogue” can make or break a fitness routine. The problem is that many people simply aren’t aware of how destructive their thoughts are. We empower you to challenge the negative thoughts like “I can’t go any further” or “I can’t do any more” instead changing them to “I am helping myself” and “this is good for me, I can finish it”.
Problems with diet, weight and body image begin in the mind, but as the body carries out the bad messages coming from the mind, it can begin to reflect those underlying messages and the beliefs.
It’s imperative with asthma to have a change of environment or scene. Taking yourself out of your environment for a change of pace, maybe even exercising or stretching is a fantastic start to your self care routine. Daily exercise is a must in strengthening your lungs for better breathing, as well as stirring your diet away for triggers. Initially, self care can sometimes be difficult, especially when cutting out yummy treats like chocolate because of an asthma trigger or allergy. But it is all about balance!, having treat days when you’re not exercising or not eating healthy foods is also an act of self care if you ask us. Taking those beginning steps to a healthier you will make all the difference. Not only will you notice a difference physically (like better breathing) but it can also shed enlightenment on your mind and inner soul.