Stress can affect various functions of our body, including causing shortness of breath even if you do not suffer from respiratory disorders. In fact, some of them experience severe shortness of breath when in a state of stress.
Stress Can Cause Shortness of Breath
With all the things going on these days with coronavirus, the isolation, shortages, the news, we have got too much in our mind. Our brain is flooded with too much information. Some people may experience shortness of breath, not due to coronavirus but because of the amount of stress they have. So, what causes this? Let’s find out more.
How can stress affect your breathing?
Generally when people talk about health, they often separate mental and physical health, as if an individual does not correlate directly with another. In fact, your mind and body don’t just coexist, they are a unit. This means that when your mental health suffers, chances are, your physical health too, and vice versa.
For example, if you have studied as hard as possible for an exam, and you still don’t understand the material, your mind starts to race. It almost feels like your breath is halting. How negative thoughts can have serious effects on your physical body.
When you experience mental stress, your body will experience tension. And that is affected by how you breathe.
The relationship between stress and shortness of breath
When faced with situations that trigger stress, your brain is in a fight or flight position (fight or run). The hypothalamus in the brain, the part that stimulates hormone production, then sends signals to the adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline.
Both of these hormones enhance various bodily functions, including heart rate to increase blood flow to important organs. Your breathing rate will also increase dramatically to meet the needs of oxygen throughout the body quickly.
This mechanism is actually useful for preparing the body in response to danger. But at the same time, stress hormones can narrow the muscles of the respiratory tract and blood vessels.
Breathing also becomes ineffective because you unconsciously breathe short and fast, not slowly and deeply as in normal conditions. All of these changes eventually make you short of breath when experiencing stress.
Apart from stress, you can also experience difficulty breathing when you feel panic, anxiety, nervousness, or even sadness. All three of these conditions trigger the same hormonal reaction so that their effects are similar in your body.
Is shortness of breath when stressed dangerous?
Stress is the body’s natural response when dealing with tense problems or situations. Short stress can even help you take action quickly in a crisis situation.
Shortness of breath and other symptoms that you experience will gradually improve once the stressors disappear. As long as it only appears occasionally, shortness of breath when stressed is not a health disorder to worry about.
The new situation is different if you experience constant stress, or also known as chronic stress. This condition is characterized by symptoms of stress that do not get better, or you always experience it every day.
In contrast to short-term stress, chronic stress can cause problems for physical or psychological health. In addition to shortness of breath, you may experience chronic stress if you have the following symptoms:
⦁ Excessive anxiety and nervousness
⦁ Easy to get angry
⦁ Difficulty concentrating
⦁ Rapid or disorganized thoughts
Shortness of breath due to stress can also be dangerous if experienced by people suffering from respiratory diseases. Especially asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The reason is, this condition will worsen the symptoms of existing diseases.
How to deal with shortness of breath when stressed
Stress and shortness of breath that accompany it can not be prevented, but you can try to relieve it with simple relaxation techniques. When stress starts to strike, find a quiet place to relax yourself.
Then, follow the steps as follows:
⦁ Tighten your body muscles, then let it relax again.
⦁ Imagine your muscles relax slowly and your body begins to feel heavy.
⦁ Clear your mind of all thoughts.
⦁ Let your body relax more and more.
⦁ Try to feel the absence of noise around you.
⦁ Once the relaxation time is almost over, regain your awareness by moving your hands and feet. Stretch your body, then move back as usual.
There are many ways you can do if you experience difficulty breathing due to stress suddenly. As stated earlier, when you are stressed you will start breathing through the chest. To overcome this, you need to consciously regulate your breathing and do deep breathing exercise.
Expand this exercise by counting six to 10 times for 10 minutes. This will reduce the speed of your heart rate by 15 to 20 beats per minute. And at the same time, it will reduce your breathing rate by 20 to 30 percent. If you have time, continue this breathing exercise for 20 minutes or more in one day.
Stress can cause shortness of breath. Shortness of breath when you are stressed is triggered by the influence of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline in your body. This is a normal condition that will improve by itself. You also do not need to feel anxious during shortness of breath that occurs occasionally. Try to remain calm.
However, you should consult with your doctor if shortness of breath persists or worsens the symptoms of respiratory illness that you are suffering from. Further tests will help you find the right treatment.
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