Stress and Your Respiratory Health

Stress and your Respiratory System

When people ask about stress and the body, they are almost always thinking about stress in a negative way. However, as a reminder, there is such a thing as good stress and purposeful stress. Actually, any change that the body has to react to is considered a type of stressor. Does stress have an effect on our body? Of course, it does because something has occurred that we have to react to. 


One form of stress that affects our respiratory system is exercise. Regular exercise should be included as part of your stress management program even if it is as simple as taking a 30-minute walk a few times a week. Exercise helps to strengthen and improve your lung capacity. This is a good form of stress for your breathing because by engaging in regular exercise you are training and strengthening your respiratory system. 


Conversely, exposure to chronic stress symptoms can take a toll on your body’s immune system as well as exacerbate underlying respiratory issues. Part of the fight or flight response aka stress response cause an elevated heart rate, increased respirations, and increased muscle tension. Research has also linked stress to cardiovascular concerns as it relates to hypertension, potentially increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Your lung function relies on your heart and muscles to function optimally and works together to oxygenate your brain and body. When your overall health is compromised due to chronic stress, your respiratory system is consequently compromised as well. 


What are some ways you can help:

  1. Exercise, as mentioned before can be as easy as going for a walk

  2. Progressive relaxation

  3. Breathing practices and meditation


Most importantly, be mindful of your stress triggers. Keep a journal to start monitoring how you react to certain situations. Take note of what affects your mood and what physical changes you notice. You can then use this to help you create a stress management plan. 


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