British Lung Foundation

Stress Management Revisited

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about how to help slow your pulse rate when it gets too fast. That solution relied on a relaxation technique, and a good imagination. I think that I have now come up with an alternative which may help some. Many of us with lung disease have a pulse oximeter, which we use mostly to monitor our O2 levels. How many have noticed that when we get out of breath, particularly when doing something physical, that our pulse rate (heart beat) goes up? Mostly that's not too bad provided it comes back down in a reasonable time. Big question is 'What if it does not come down'? That can be indicator of something starting to go wrong, often the start of an infection, or maybe our drugs are getting out of balance.

Whatever the cause, and that can be sorted out a little later, we have the immediate problem of being short of breath, panting, starting to feel panicky, and all the rest that goes with the situation. As I said in the original article, we need to sit, use our inhalers, use our pulse oximeter (if we have one) and use breathing techniques to get our breath back. I also suggested that using a relaxation technique involving an imaginary bouncing ball, and controlling the bounce, and changing the colour, we can help to slow our heart rate down. Fine, that works for me, and I understand that it works for a few others. We're a lucky few, but what about all you others? Well, perhaps this may be a solution for a few more of you.

Online, I have found a little application that works in my browser, and I believe it works in all browsers. It's a metronome, a device invented to help musicians develop a regular rhythm. Set it to 'tick-tock' away at the same speed as your heart rate, then after a minute or two slow it down a little. Hopefully, after a very short while, your heart rate will slow to match the rhythm of the metronome, then slow it again. Keep repeating until you feel balance has been restored.

As with anything new we want to try, have a go when we are feeling 'normal'. If you like the idea, and it works for you, practice to get some confidence with it.

Another thing in it's favour, is that it is possible to get this as an 'app' to use on a smart phone.

Remember, this is one of those things that will work for some people, but not so effective for others. You don't know unless you try it.

The link to the metronome programme is:

breathe easy


5 Replies

Hi johnwr

Stress management is so important for good health, living with a lung condition means we need to avoid stress as much as we can, things do become more difficult to achieve with an illness and even meeting appointment times can become a stressful experience.

Any stress situation we can't avoid, we can at least learn techniques that may help us manage our stress, its great we have so many choices and options in the techniques that are available, so thank you for sharing this for everyone here.

There are many self help management techniques on the web, You tube is great for many things I find, for learning, for entertainment, to enjoy some relaxing music, viewing relaxing videos, all are a great help and distraction away from what is of concern.

Here is another link that may be of help to some people, its on Managing Stress with COPD but it gives helpful information and includes ways to deal with stress and coping actions for stress, I would say it applies to most anyone with a lung condition and even those with healthy lungs. Here it is - a New Zealand web page:

May your days be mostly stress free.

Best wishes



There's plenty of Android apps out there for metronomes.


Hi, I remember your last post about the bouncing ball technique, this metronome idea seems useful too, I am going to try it.

I heard on the radio a time ago that listening to Pachelbel's Canon in D Major can slow the heartbeat too, it synchronises with the rhythm of the music...60 beats a minute I think, but I am no music expert.

I use a Resparate machine that monitors and helps reduce your breathing rate with the aim of lowering blood pressure and it slows my pulse rate down too.

Thanks again


Most excellent idea John - my pulse often has a mind of it's own; no rhyme or reason sometimes as to why it races. That little oximeter of mine is probably one of the best gadgets I've ever bought so shall try the metronome and see how well it works. Thanks. :) xx


Interesting thank you


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