5 Ways To Help With Breathlessness
Updated: Apr 25
Breathlessness is a frightening and distressing symptom that can arise from illness affecting the lungs, or certain treatments and medications. The feeling of not being able to catch your breath coupled with the unpredictability or constant nature of breathlessness can have a severely negative impact on quality of life.
Fortunately there are a number of proven ways that can help you to cope with breathlessness. It’s something we see on a regular basis working with patients here at Physiocare Holistics, and many find that these methods help them to cope better with breathlessness and the anxiety it can cause.
Control your breathing
This may sound easier said than done – but learning breathwork techniques that help you to better control your breathing can help you to reduce the number of incidences of breathlessness, and reduce the effects of resulting anxiety or distress when they do occur.
When breathlessness occurs, we tend to begin rapid, shallow breathing in the upper chest and shoulders. Breathwork techniques encourage us to breathe more deeply and slowly, using the lower chest and abdomen. This type of breathing also has the added benefit of being incredibly relaxing for body and mind.
You can find resources online to try this at home – but there are trained Breathwork practitioners you can go to if you prefer a professional approach.
Invest in rest
Rest is highly underestimated when it comes to coping with chronic illness and symptoms such as breathlessness. Often patients feel like they need to ‘push through’, which is actually counterintuitive as it tends to lead to more incidences of breathlessness and tiredness.
Take time to rest and try not to feel guilty about it. You will need more rest during the day than others – and that’s okay! Find balance with intervals for rest and periods of gentle activity throughout each day – and listen to your body. If you need to rest more (or less) on one particular day, then go with that.
Reduce stress and anxiety
Reducing stress and anxiety can be tricky, as often patients are dealing with an enormous amount of stress and uncertainty, especially when undergoing treatment or facing a diagnosis of life-liming illness.
There are numerous ways you can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Popular relaxation techniques include meditation, yoga, massage, reiki (energy healing) – but there are practical, day-to-day techniques too.
It’s all about finding techniques that work for you – everyone is different, so try whatever you feel drawn to and don’t be disheartened if something isn’t quite as helpful as you hoped.
Be gentle with yourself
Don’t worry if some days are harder than others. Naturally there will be days where you’ll need to rest more, and may not be able to do as many things without getting breathless. On these days, be gentle with yourself and rest when you need to rest without feeling guilty. Pushing yourself too hard when your body is telling you to rest could mean you’re out of action for longer.
Get specialist support
Your GP or specialist may be able to better support you with symptoms such as breathlessness, or refer you to a dedicated clinic for professional help. If your breathlessness is new and is not related to an ongoing condition or existing diagnosis, be sure to speak to your GP for a health check.
Speak to us today for specialist, empathic support with breathlessness, combining a clinical and holistic approach.