Amber Dawkins, a parent with CF, relaxing with her husband

Amber Dawkins, a parent with CF, relaxing with her husband

Let’s Talk About
Emotional Wellbeing

There’s a lot that goes into maintaining a healthy mindset. Sometimes, a positive attitude comes naturally and it’s easy to get excited about the future. Other times, stress may feel overwhelming and it’s hard to even manage the day-to-day. Making a point to notice how you’re feeling is a great first step toward being more mindful.

Coping on the spot when you’re feeling overwhelmed

Take a deep breath: Deep breathing has been shown to reduce stress. Try the following belly breathing exercise to help yourself relax:

  1. Try to sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
  2. Keep one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a deep breath through the nose, and let your belly expand and make sure your chest doesn’t move.
  4. Exhale while whistling. Use the hand on your belly to push the air out.
  5. Repeat this breathing pattern 3 to 10 times.

Try some relaxing exercises: There are many stress-relieving relaxation techniques out there, like yoga and meditation. And not only can they help you manage stress, they can also help boost your immune system.

Check your posture: Standing upright is not only a sign of confidence, but it also makes people feel less antsy. This is because an upright posture decreases the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Remember to smile: Smiling, even if you don’t feel like it, can actually boost your mood and relieve stress.

Take in a nature scene: It’s been proven that gazing at pictures of nature scenes following a stressful event can lead to a speedy recovery from the source of stress.

Keep calm and do what makes you happy: Try writing, drawing, or reading—anything that essentially gives you peace of mind and takes you away from what’s stressing you out.

Incorporating emotional wellness practices into your routine

Stay organized: Day planners come in different forms, from hard copies to phone apps. Try different ones to see which works best for you. You might find that once you establish a scheduling routine, you’ll feel more in control.

Amber Dawkins, a parent with CF, staying organized.

Talk, talk, talk: About cystic fibrosis (CF). Or not! Sharing your feelings with a friend or loved one can bring you closer together and may help create a stronger sense of community and belonging. Also remember that the support of your loved ones can give you that little extra boost to power through the day when you need it. Find out more about relationships and CF.

Reset and recharge: A busy week at work can take you out of your groove. But don't let days of exhausting meetings get in the way of laid-back relaxation. Set aside time each night and weekend to unwind. This could mean cozying up with a big book, binging the latest must-see TV show, or simply hanging out with friends. Some "me time" can do wonders.

“Schedule the thing that is going to give you that spark of joy to keep you into the next thing on the to-do list.”

–Katie, a yoga teacher living with CF

Catching some ZZZ’s

Here are a few ideas to help you sleep better at night, so you can own every part of your day. And remember, if you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your CF care team about all the ways you can get a better night's sleep.

Try to wind down: Consider limiting your use of TV, laptops, phones, and tablets before bed. Also, try to leave enough time between doing your treatments and going to bed. This will help clear your mind so you can drift off more easily.

Put on a pair of warm socks: Warming up your cold feet lets your brain know it’s time to go to sleep. So the faster you take care of those cold feet, the sooner you can snooze.

Finding support to help deal with difficult emotions

Struggling with overwhelming or complicated emotions can have a negative impact on your overall health—so it only makes sense that some people may need to introduce a mental health professional to their care team. People in the CF community (including caregivers) may have a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety, and there are even guidelines that recommend screening for these mental health issues as part of comprehensive CF care.

If introducing a mental health professional to your care team seems like something that may be beneficial for you, a social worker at your CF center (or someone else on your care team) can help you find the appropriate type of care.

Exploring options for talk therapy: There are different types of therapy available to help people work through a variety of challenges. Studies show that certain types of talk therapy like the ones listed below can help those dealing with both depression and anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This form of therapy focuses on unhealthy thought patterns and underlying beliefs and helps introduce coping skills.

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT): This form of therapy focuses on conflicts in relationships and unresolved grief.

Work with your care team to find an approach that works for you and that can be integrated into your care plan.

Determining coverage

Make sure to ask your insurance provider what kinds of therapy they’ll cover. Is there a difference between the cost of in-person visits and virtual visits? A limit on the number of sessions that are covered? A specialist co-pay?


Therapy can be very personal. If you’re having trouble finding a mental health professional in-network, you can also look for therapists that charge on a sliding scale. Just make sure to coordinate with your CF care team to ensure your symptoms are being appropriately monitored.

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