Breathe. Reduce Stress.


“If they are properly swept, volcanoes burn gently and regularly, without any eruptions. Volcanic eruptions are like chimney fires. On Earth, of course, we are far too small to sweep our volcanoes. That is why they cause us so much trouble.”

– The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

As a physician caring for asthma patients, and as someone with asthma, I know well the connection between stress and asthma.  I regularly hear stories from patients where stressful life events precede an asthma exacerbation. Stress, lack of sleep, uncontrolled asthma, these three work together to make asthma more difficult to treat. Medically speaking, we are still not sure why stress worsens asthma, but it may involve disruption of cortisol levels, the natural anti-inflammatory hormone in our bodies.

In the childhood story The Little Prince, the Prince lives alone on a small asteroid (called Asteroid B-612 on Earth) with several small volcanos. To prevent eruptions, the Prince must sweep out the small volcanoes’ craters with a broom, allowing them to burn gently. 

I love this analogy because it teaches us that dealing with stress is an active, daily process in our lives, just as caring for your asthma.


Stress reduction can happen in many ways, but it should be daily, and it should be purposeful. This is especially important when your asthma is uncontrolled.  Think of stress reduction like you would other treatments in your life. Reducing stress is a treatment, and know that by reducing stress you are helping your lungs heal.

What are some ways to reduce stress?

• Daily Meditation.

• Daily unplug.
Take time daily to unplug from work, email, and your smartphone.
Step outside, go for a hike or jog, or simply take a walk in the park.

• Exercise regularly.

Have you noticed any correlation between stress and your asthma suffering?