Stress & COPD

Hi, please excuse me turning up here but a question popped into my head just as I was going to tackle a mountain of ironing!!

8yrs ago I had a heart attack, I spent 3yrs following every bit of advice I could, but I became so ill scared of each little ache & pain, every chest pain was bound to be another heart attack, it drove my stress levels through the roof, so in the end I stopped, it was either that or have a breakdown!!

Anyway we seem to be encouraged here to focus on our lungs, & at a cousins funereal last Thursday I was surrounded by people coughing, & worried about catching yet another infection

So my question is do any of you know of any research that links stress to higher levels of infections in Copd patients

Also what is the best way you have found of reducing your stress levels????


43 Replies

  • I don't know any research but I try to reduce anxiety by enjoying a beautiful flower, watching the dog bury yet another personal item of mine or looking into the eyes of my lovely granddaughter. Sometimes it works! Otherwise I think of the alternative.

    When young and able to breath easily, I used to go into the garden and beat hell out of the weeds. I could resume my life with no hangover and productive veg patch. These days alcohol upsets the v large hiatus hernia, hayfever disrupts flower gardening and lungs put paid to stress relieving weed clearing. Oh well, c'est la vie. I'll have to listen to support from others on here and at home. Deep breath sillywitch, deep breath ... :-) :-) Alison

  • I have got asthma, often had bronchitis and had whooping cough once really badly. I am really scared of coughs, to the point that I avoid public transport and whenever I hear a cough my radar is set to alert and I try to keep my distance.

    I have consciously tried working on it and it is a little bit better than it was immediately after whooping cough (which initially triggered the phobia) but it does give me stress through fear of catching something, mainly fear of whooping cough.

    I think that any illness seriously affecting someone's health will inevitably have some psychological effect in one way or another to some degree. COPD is clearly extremely serious and I'd be amazed if it didn't affect people in the way you described.

    On the video the BLF posted a few days ago in one of the blogs they cover this issue a bit - the fear and so on using CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). They seem to be doing a lot of work on that in Newcastle. If you want more info I'm sure the BLF helpline could tell you more. They did add that it's not for everyone, but seeing as you posed the question maybe it'd suit you.

    Best of luck


  • I have done a wee search for you, sillywitch, but not finding a lot at the moment. Have avoided the american sites although may just look anyway.

    From personal experience, stress is a huge trigger on shortness of breath and if it is a constant in one's life, I do think that it leads to exacerbations. I know that I lost 10% lung function mostly due to stress. So now I smile and laugh, even when I don't really feel like it. I am not going to lose another 10% !

  • ooops and if you have a sense of humour failure, you could always do the donkey breathing - guaranteed to stop stress immediately due to ROFL :)

  • Oooo, darn... Sillywitch, I just replied. Then accidentally pressed wrong key ... grrrrrr ... need to deep breath, beat hell out of garden weeds, plant a few beautiful flowers, chase dog down garden to retrieve yet another personal item before he buries it and groom cat. Sadly, wonky lungs, hayfever, other allergies and lack of muscle power mean I shall sit down with a cup of tea, look into the eyes of my lovely granddaughter, laugh as the chickens scrape up the garden and hope they uncover more of the dog's treasures. Also I shall marvel at the insects flocking into my wilderness and listen to the support here on this website and from family. Deep breath sillywitch, deep breath ... :-) :-) Alison

  • Didn't press wrong button after all, calm thinking, calm thinking ... daft me ...

  • My GP adviced me when I was in a very stressful situation, that I had to take extra care as the stress levels reduced the ability of my own immune system to fight infection. As others have mentioned, stressing yourself will impinge your breathing.

    Please take care, Sillywitch.

    Sandra x x x

  • Have you watched the latest BLF blog about anxiety and is very good.

    I went to meditation classes to ease my anxiety.At first I found it very difficult as we had to concentrate on our breathing which I hated, but it now helps to still my mind and body.

    Or my "wittering and wheezing" as my daughters say.

  • That was the blog I meant too, I listened to the whole video and found it excellent.


  • I read everything with interest. I believe in meditation and find it in a church or cathedral. I am not a church goer, but I do like to sit and reflect for quite a long time in a place which is serene. I think about all the decades the church has been in existence and absorb the atmosphere.

  • Hubby wasn't churchy either, Annie, but he did find peach in Durham Cathedral - well, we were in Durham, and it was raining at the time .... seemed as good as any place to get out the rain. :) x x

  • *peace - predictive texting oops

  • Did you know that Durham was my favourite or was it a guess?

  • It was the last holiday I took hubby on, Annie, and he felt so at peace there. When we arrived, the choir had just begun rehearsals. It was so, so soothing. The cathedral was undergoing a facelift and a lot of the outside of the building was shrouded in Scaffolding, that was in 2007. And I've still got the picture of the Almshouse, where we had a bite of lunch. ;) Happy memory that, Annie, a lovely happy memory. x x x

  • I was on a week's art course. I was staying at one of the colleges and spent an afternoon in Durham. I will never forget the cathedral and the organ was playing.

  • Annie, you dark horse, that's the first time I've heard you mention art.... Care to share some of your work? I love art - I just don't have a talent for it. Monet is my favourite artist .... And yes, the acoustics in the Cathedral were so ... haunting ... and relaxing. And that's saying something, coming from this Black Sabbath fan!

  • I haven't painted for a long while now, not since I have been in this forum. But I love art and looking at tv programmeses.

  • Pressed yellow button before I was ready - programmes

  • Agree with nowheeze that stress compromises your immune system and allows the little bugs / germs / viruses to creep in unnoticed.

    I also meditate or have some quiet time out; if I am shattered, then I arrange to have a duvet day and do not answer the phone or go anywhere, likewise if I feel that an infection is coming on, again I take to my bed for about 2 / 3 days until the danger has passed. It must work as I have not had an infection for over a year. I also take probiotics, but proper ones, not yoghurty things.

  • My doc also put me on mega doses of probiotics, and I think they're great. The immune system needs a healthy gut to function properly.

    I agree, yoghurt and related products can be great and tasty but don't provide enough bacteria for all of us.

  • My system can't cope with yoghurt so the tablets are wonderful and they do help, I am sure of it. :)

  • Totally agree! :-)

    I LOVE yoghurt and dairy products but the tablets or capsules contain billions more bacteria. It was my clinical nutritionist who put me on them and I'll be forever grateful.

    koala xxx

  • Can you buy over the counter probiotics, koala?

  • Hi Annie, sorry to butt in - I bought mine from Holland & Barrett because I can only swallow tablets but if you can cope with capsules, most of the big supermarkets have a small range. Just go for the ones with the highest amount of bacteria.

  • Butt in, any time, you like with me, scrobbitty. Thanks for the info.

  • I got my capsules in Holland and Barrett. They do a deal in there every so often buy one get another for a penny.

    I don't normally shop there but my usual supplier doesn't do them &

    I'd searched everywhere.

    I'll try anything to boost my immune system and if you've taken loads of antibiotics they'll replace the good bacteria. Peeg

  • referring to pro biotics. I've bought from Boots the chemist in the past, although local health food store may have more of a selection.

  • I have had CBT for my anxiety attacks which obviously are stress related and one of the things I find helps is visual concentration. Sounds easy but it takes time and what you do is concentrate on something that you enjoy such as the sea, mountains or whatever close your eyes and visualise them and as you do so your breathing adjusts and slows - hopefully. I suppose it is rather like a form of meditation. I also find using my Ipod and comfort music helps.

    It is not a strange thought about stress and an attack because I think the stress lowers our resistance and often we let our guard down and let the infection grab us - my opinion only I hasten to add.



  • I too use a visualisation/self hypnosis technique to firstly visualise the tension and stress leave my body and then put myself in a very calming place and chill out, as it were.

  • Hiya Witchy

    This may sound far out but have you thought about hypnosis? An implanted word that you say to yourself when you get stressed out can work quite well I am told. Apart from that, keep the speed of the broom below 90 mph and fly at a lower level than British Airways.

    Love, as always, from Bobby xxxx

  • As I sit here drinking coffee, watching wifey and youngest working away in the garden I think, I'm not stressed out at all. Wifey is, youngest is, I'm not. Proves what I have always said. That gardening is no damn good at all for relieving stress.

    Bobby xxx

  • I do visual concentration. This may sound really silly, but when I need to I visually go down some stone steps, open an old door and there is a walled garden full of white roses, the smell is intoxicating, I sit at a table where there is an old wooden box which I open, inside is the most beautiful white rose, I pick it up and smell it's scent, the smell is out of this world. I put it back, close the box, walk back through the door up the steps and I feel so much calmer it's amazing. My mind now associates that rose and the scent calming me down.

    (I'm not going back to the asylum Bobby)

    Lib x

  • Oh, Libby that isn't silly at all. We all reach our inner peace in our own fashion. Visualisation is a very powerful skill to have, and just shows you we each have the ability to "tranquillise" our own stresses and fears. :) I do like your technique :) x x

  • I thin, for me, that lavender fields would work in the same way. I love lavender so next time, I will set a scene in my mind. The mauve/purple haze with butterflies on a clear day .....

  • Hi Lib I love this I'm definitely go to give this a try.

  • Many years ago I went to relaxation classes where they taught a similar technique. I relaxed so much I kept falling asleep and snoring. They threw me out in the end.

    Bobby xxx

    PS I suppose you had better stay now. No more asylum for you. lol

  • My advice.

    Don't worry, be happy. :)

  • Chill out. :)

  • Hi sillywitch, I think stress causes all sorts of bad things in our bodies. I agree with nowheeze about stress lowering our immune system and allowing in those bugs. I find listening to relaxing music helps also walking on the beach in winter can do wonders for me can't do it in summer too many people about. I have a cd called Instant Calm it comes with a book by Paul McKenna I listen to the cd it's lovely and really works I've never read the book it's on my to do list.

  • I would like to thank each & everyone of you for taking the time to come here & help me learn how to relax a little, I find relaxing so difficult, it comes I think from having a child so sick with asthma I never knew on each & every hospital admission whether he would come out again,at least 15 admissions a year, for 13 yrs, it wears a body down :(

    He is now a strapping 31yr old, & although he still needs his nebuliser thankfully he hsn't been admitted for some time!!!

    I promise to try some of the techniques you have so vividly described, & I hope to eventually find my own tranquil space

    Bless you all

    The Witch


  • If its not to late,I. Will add my little bit! I find if I go down to the beach,& sit there,with my headphones on,& watch the waves,it realy soothes me,even if it's a wild sea,after a cyclone,I find it realy calming.Or just to go out, & have a coffee on my own,& people watch,along the board walk,just "emptys" my mind.

    Hugs Wendells xxx

  • Its so nice to come on here and read a great blog like this Sillywitch,its good to read these great replies you've had, and if it's not too late for me to say I think there are lots of us who find a 'higher' concience when faced with this dis-ease, I totaly agree that stress makes any illness worse and can maybe even cause it, because stress is the opposite to ease....the very cells of our bodies respond to how we feel, we must keep our thoughts focused on all the things we love, breath in, breath out! I've just had a letter saying I have Obstructive sleep apnea! off to hospital on Thursday to see if I can co the cpap breathing oh my :) xxx

  • Very good question, I too have been wondering this. My troubles began at a time of great stress. I shall eagerly read all your answers. Peeg

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