Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

If you have COPD, you may be afraid of those times you cannot breathe. You may also be afraid of any changes you have to make in your lifestyle. You are not alone! These are normal feelings to have. Fear, anxiety, depression and anger are some of the feelings you may have that affect your breathing. You may breathe faster, your breathing muscles may get tighter, and your airways could narrow. All this may make you feel short of breath. When this happens, it is important to gain control, relax and focus on your breathing.

Here are some useful tips to help you to control your breathing and to help you relax.

Breathing Exercises

General tips:

  • INHALE through your nose whenever you are extending your body, or moving your arms away from your body. When you reach overhead to get clothes out of the closet, you would inhale.
  • EXHALE through pursed lips whenever you are bending your body, or moving your arms towards your body. When you bend down to pick something up off of the floor, you would exhale.
  • NEVER HOLD YOUR BREATH while straining or exercising.

Breathing exercise tips:

  • Talk to your Doctor before starting these exercises
  • Make sure that you are comfortable
  • Keep your breathing steady
  • If you get dizzy, stop and take some deep breaths

Pursed Lip Breathing:

This type of breathing helps you get rid of the old, stale air in your lungs that is trapped in your airways. When you breathe out with pursed lips, the pressure in your lungs helps the airways stay open. This helps you to breathe out stale air, and in turn to breathe in more fresh air through your nose.
  • Use Pursed Lip Breathing whenever you are active. You can use it while climbing stairs, while bending or lifting, or if you feel anxious.
  • Start by taking a deep breath in from your nose to expand your lungs
  • Purse your lips (like you are blowing out a candle) and let the air out through your mouth slowly
  • Breathe in for a count of two, and out for a count of four
  • Remember not to hold your breath
  • Fun tip: Blow some bubbles through a plastic wand using bubble liquid to help you practice Pursed Lip Breathing

Relaxation Techniques

Benefits of Relaxation:

  • Helps you to breathe easier
  • Decreases your body’s need for oxygen
  • Controls your heart rate
  • Improves circulation to your hands and feet
  • Helps you to sleep better

Ways You Can Relax:

  • Listen to calming music
  • Watch TV or a movie with relaxing content
  • Work on your favorite hobby
  • Meditate
  • Practice Yoga
  • Use Guided Imagery (close your eyes and picture a relaxing place like the beach or a waterfall)

Relaxation exercise:

This is one of many exercises that you can try at any time. As with any type of exercise, always check with your doctor first before starting.

  • Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Keep your upper body relaxed.
  • Breathe in deeply and hold your breath for a few seconds. Let the air out slowly.
  • When you inhale and exhale, think to yourself, “Calm in, tension out.” Try to clear your mind of everything else.
  • Flex your feet, reach forward with your arms,and grasp your toes or wherever you can comfortably reach. Gently pull your toes back toward your head while tightening the muscles in your calf, then your knee, and up to your thigh. Relax your muscles and let your feet fall to the side.
  • Push your stomach muscles outward, and hold for a couple of seconds. Continue to breathe as you tighten your muscles more. Release the tightness and feel the muscles in your back relax.
  • Focus on one arm at a time. Clench your fist and tighten your fingers. Tighten the muscles from your hand to your upper arm. Relax your arm and let your fingers open slowly. Repeat on your other arm.
  • Tighten the muscles in your shoulders by raising them up close to your ears. Hold for a few seconds, and then let your shoulders fall back down. Feel your upper back relax.
  • Next, tighten the muscles of your face. Clench your teeth together, close your eyes tightly and wrinkle your forehead. Tighten as many muscles as you can. Then, relax your jaw, your eyes, and your forehead.
  • Repeat these as many times as you wish, or just enjoy the feeling of relaxation.

This information is not intended to replace the judgment of your physician. We encourage you to discuss the information provided with your physician to determine how it may apply to your own treatment program