If you have COPD, you've likely been told how important it is to keep yourself from getting sick. Getting a chest cold, for which there is not vaccination or cure, can cause an acute exacerbation, or flare up in someone with a chronic lung disease, such as COPD or asthma.
When your respiratory tract is inflamed with more mucous production caused by a cold or flu virus, a pair of lungs that are already damaged won't be able to recover the way healthy lungs normally would. If not treated with medication right away, it can cause even more breathing problems and lead to an exacerbation, which can often mean hospitalization and the worsening of COPD.
Aside from doing all the usual things to keep from getting sick – washing your hands frequently, staying away from people who are sick, getting a flu shot and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in the home – you should also being doing everything you can to keep your immune system strong.
In recent years, researchers have discovered that something as seemingly simple as meditation can be even more effective in boosting the immune system than getting regular exercise. In an 8 week study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, three groups of volunteers were monitored. One group exercised for a certain amount of time, while another group meditated for the same amount of time. A control group were assigned to do neither during this time period.
People in all three of the groups ended up with symptoms from the virus, but there was a significant difference in the severity of the symptoms between the different groups. They found that 48% fewer people from the exercise group missed work due to illness, while 78% less missed work due to illness from the group who meditated.
It's suggested that meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, when practiced regularly, enabled one to be able to cope with day to day life in a much better way than someone who does not meditate. Essentially, this lowers everyday stress, which can wear away at the immune system. When we are stressed our bodies experience an increased level of cortisol. When there is too much cortisol coursing through our bodies for too long, it begins to wear away at our immune systems.
Meditation is a great coping mechanism for stress, and can even completely prevent stress from occurring in the first place by changing the way we look at the challenges we face each day. Since this is the case, people who want to avoid getting sick as much as possible should start meditating whenever possible. To help you get started, you might want to seek the guidance of a meditation instructor, or buy a DVD or MP3 recording of someone guiding mindfulness meditation.
In general, mindfulness meditation focuses on breathing, and unlike some forms of meditation, you do not have to completely clear your mind of thoughts. During mindfulness meditation, you are instructed to let your thoughts happen, acknowledge them, and focus on breathing steadily.