Your recent COPD or other chronic lung disease diagnosis may leave you feeling a bit confused, and unsure what to do next. While you might have experienced symptoms that made you start to think you may have a chronic lung disease, it can feel totally different when it’s officially diagnosed by your doctor. So now what? Read on for some beginner’s tips on how to adjust to a COPD diagnosis1:
Sign up for pulmonary rehab: Pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab) can improve your quality of life, breathlessness and strength. During pulmonary rehab, you’ll receive nutritional counseling, education on living with COPD and practice exercises safe for those with a chronic lung disease.
Ask for help: Surround yourself with people who can help you with certain tasks that may be too difficult for you. If asking for help is hard at first, consider offering to help your loved one or caregiver with one of their tasks that you can do if they trade and help you with a task you’re having difficulty completing.
Make a plan: Spending a little bit of time each day planning out what you need to get done can help you avoid wearing yourself out. Find opportunities that you can create shortcuts for, such as using an absorbent robe instead of using valuable energy by drying yourself off with a towel.
Do something about anxiety: Anxiety can be common in those with COPD or another chronic lung disease. It leads to shortness of breath, which can cause even more anxiety. Break the cycle by doing activities that help you relax. Whether it’s reading, listening to music or practicing breathing exercises, you can help manage your anxiety by focusing your energy toward another activity when you start to feel anxious.
Rest: Listen to your body. There may be certain days when your COPD symptoms are worse and you still want to get a lot done. Consider holding back from more strenuous activities and giving your body a break.
Learn pursed lip breathing: Controlling your breathing with pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing can help you reduce the feeling of shortness of breath. Your respiratory therapist can teach you these helpful techniques.