Should I Push Through or Rest with Asthma?
Last updated: September 2023
I feel like my brain and body are always playing tug-of-war. My brain says things like, “Keep going, you can do it!” and “Just push through!” or “You’ll feel better if you stop focusing on your asthma attack.” At the same time, my body says “Hey, your lungs say it’s time to rest.” And “If you keep pushing yourself, you will feel even worse tomorrow.”
Should I listen to my brain or my body?
This is the question I am often asking myself. Asthma can really slow you down. On bad days, it can put you in a full stop. If I slowed down or stopped every time I felt asthma symptoms, I would not get anything done. On the other hand, I know if I push myself too much my asthma will get worse. So how do I decide if it is time to stop, rest, or push myself to keep going? I ask myself the following questions:
How do I feel emotionally?
My emotional well-being plays a big role in how my asthma is managed. Stress is a big asthma trigger for me. So are other strong emotions like feeling anxious, depressed, or even excited. Sometimes I do not manage my emotions well, and that’s OK. But since my emotions have an impact on my asthma, it is important to assess them honestly.
Are my other conditions well controlled?
Like many of you, I have more than one chronic condition. Sometimes it is hard to know which symptom is caused by which condition. And, when one condition flares-up, usually there is another that will follow. I consider my other conditions, including early warning signs and symptoms, when determining if it is time to rest.
Fatigue is common when you have asthma, especially if you have other chronic conditions. Fatigue feels very different than being tired. If I feel fatigued, like it is exhausting to walk from the sofa to the kitchen, I know I need complete rest as soon as possible.
What triggers could I be exposed to?
If I am debating if I should go to work, have dinner with a friend, or just take a walk outside, I think about possible triggers. Will I be exposed to triggers that will make my asthma symptoms worse? If my allergies are worse at work, or my friend wears cologne to dinner, or it’s humid outside, I may choose to not leave my house. When triggers stack on each other, my asthma will get worse.
What is my asthma zone?
I always follow my asthma action plan and take my medications as directed. I often believe my asthma symptoms are no big deal when they are a big deal. Seeing the symptoms written on my asthma action plan leaves no room for interpretation. If the plan says I am in the yellow zone, then I must accept that I am in the yellow zone. Sometimes I use my peak flow meter or a pulse oximeter to help better understand the severity of my symptoms and help decide what to do next. (Remember – symptoms always trump readings!)
My final decision: Pushing through or resting with asthma
I am always on the go, but I have learned if I take just a few minutes and ask myself the above questions, I can make the best decision for my health. If my lungs hurt and I have mild asthma symptoms, I may push forward and continue to monitor my symptoms. If my lungs hurt, I have mild asthma symptoms, and I feel extra tired, I am probably going to stop and get the rest I need.
How do you decide when to push forward? What helps you decide it’s time to stop and rest?
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