Guilt, self-doubt, and negative self-talk are all too easy after an asthma flare-up. You might blame yourself for forgetting to take your medication, pushing your workout a little too hard, or simply ignoring your asthma triggers.
Being perfect and remembering everything all the time isn’t possible. It’s certainly not in the nature of living with a chronic disease.
One of the many lessons I’ve learned when managing asthma over the years is to be kind to myself. It’s important to recognize why an asthma attack happened so I learn from it. It’s also important to realize that mistakes do happen.
All you need to remember is that you have the power to change your mindset around asthma flare-ups. Here are some tips that might help you eliminate guilt and heal faster.
Let go of the guilt
I used to carry guilt with me for weeks. After a flare-up I’d ask myself, “Why was this different than any other time?”
I’d wonder what would have happened if I’d have taken my maintenance medication that morning. Or if I’d skipped that hard workout. Those what-ifs will drive you crazy.
Instead, try to think about any choices that you think may have brought on your asthma flare-up. Recognize how you can do better next time. Then move on.
We misplace our phones and forget our keys. Life also gets in the way of managing asthma according to our plans. We’re only human.
Don’t be shy about avoiding triggers
I’m more likely to have an asthma attack when I’m near cats. I’m actually allergic, so I try to minimize the time I spend at the homes of friends and families with cats. Although it’s not always easy to lay down the law and leave.
I used to push myself to stay, but then everyone feels bad when you have an asthma attack and then you have to explain why it happened.
Friends and family want what’s best for you. They don’t want to see you in pain. So, let go of the guilt of telling them what you need and put your health first.
Adopt a mantra to feel in control
Having an asthma attack can be a terrifying experience. Losing control is one of the hardest aspects of asthma for me.
I use a mantra to calm myself down and control the situation. Mantras help bring focus and peace of mind. It can be as easy as repeating, “Inhale the good, exhale the bad.” Try it sometime!
Recognize that self-care isn’t selfish
Sundays are my slow and lazy days. I try to stay in the house and away from asthma triggers. I also allow my body to reset after a long week of work, exercise, and travel.
Saying no to things you aren’t sure about doing is a great form of self-care. And self-care is more than a buzzword — it’s an important part of managing asthma.
Everyone who lives with a chronic condition will benefit from rest. Show yourself some kindness and grace.
Remember, being kind to yourself is good for your health
A positive attitude can improve your health. Research suggests that positive thinking may lower depression risk, improve heart health, and help you to cope with stress.
Find a reason to focus on the glass being half-full after a flare-up. Changing your self-talk may turn negative thoughts into positive ones. Tell yourself that you’ll do better next time and that you’re only human. Think about what you’re grateful for and all of the things you do right.
Being kind to yourself will help you to reframe your asthma experience so you feel more powerful. Learn to forgive yourself just as easily as you’d forgive a friend if they made a mistake.
For more information on how to manage asthma, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
NPS-US-NP-00496 OCTOBER 2019