Catching Your Breath
Sometimes we just get short of breath. There is no rhyme or reason for it. Our stats like O2 and heart rate seem fine, we have taken our meds as we normally do, and yet getting a deep breath seems impossible. You have two options now, you can panic or you can become mindful of your situation.
The problem with panic
If you allow panic to set in, your situation will worsen and you will usually be certain that death is going to follow. This can lead to a full-body panic mode. I think of all of the horrible ways that I could die and suffocating from lack of oxygen is the scariest.
Letting panic rule you is living in the past and reliving the most horrible things that happened to you before. It is a torturous nightmare that we relive over and over again. Each time we visit the past our experience becomes a living nightmare.
The cause of your increased shortness of breath can have something to do with the barometric pressure and high humidity. This is a good reason to have your A/C running all year round. The one thing that you’re A/C will do for you is to remove the humidity from the air, allowing you to breathe easier in minutes.
The power of the mind
It can be from many things but how you react to your situation will tell how well you will recover. I started using mindfulness shortly after my diagnosis. It was introduced to me by my daughter who is also a social worker. I thought it was the best-kept secret ever. That is because I had never had any idea of the power of the mind.
When I began to panic I allowed my mind to go back to the worst things that had ever happened to me and I talked myself into imagining that those horrible things would happen again. This, of course, caused a fight or flight mode, neither of which I was actually able to do. So being trapped made everything worse than it needed to be.
Help from my daughter
My daughter placed her hand on my shoulder and talked so calmly to me, urging me to close my eyes and breathe deeply through my nose. Hold that breath and imagine it filling your lungs, count to 3 and exhale through pursed lips. Concentrate only on your breathing and do not let your mind wander. Your job now is to breathe in clean fresh air and to exhale stale used air. Push all thoughts out of your mind, except the need to breathe. You can feel your heart slowing and the pounding is calm. As your heart rate returns to normal, so does your breathing. Heart rate first then your oxygen will return to normal. Try this next time you begin to panic and think that you cannot catch a breath.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?