When it comes to coping with a chronic condition, TRUST me, I know what it’s like to feel like giving up and turning into a piece of jelly.
Sometimes, you just have really bad days, where either you want a superhero to come along and save you (preferably in the form of Chris Hemsworth ;)) or a miracle to happen. Yet, if you’ve followed my story (check it out featured on Sunday Mirror, Real People and Network Health Digest), or blog pieces, you’ll know that I have a Buddhist mindset. Meaning- don’t react to it or become a passive bystander. Whatever you can control, you can do so with mental strength to overcome a bad situation or learn from it. Otherwise, if you literally do nothing, you will become nothing.
Besides, there’s always the rewarding/ self-actualisation feeling that comes from the link between effort and reward. Who wants to be handed something on a plate for doing nothing? It’s not a nice feeling that way.
“So tell me Kim, what is it I must do, in order to overcome or help my chronic respiratory/ COPD problem?”
The following are areas I’ve addressed individually in separate blog pieces, but as a summary it’s good to have a go-to-check list that will help you along the way:
- Yoga- Yes that’s me in the pic mid-way through the wheel pose (check out point no 3). People have this preconceived idea I’m physically disabled (and sometimes I feel like it yes, but I never stop trying). I swear by yoga, and even practice it if I’m admitted into hospital (yes that’s right!) when I’m feeling slightly better, the next day, after a horrendous episode/infection. Its my saving grace. Just google the benefits of yoga and you’ll see why it’s wise and makes sense to. It helps with blood flow, promotes oxygen circulation, reduces stress and inflammation with both mental and physical benefits. My favourite poses are many of the “chest-openers” as crude as that sounds, it helps with stretching the lungs e.g. Bow pose, wheel pose, fish pose, camel pose, mountain pose- all of which you can You Tube “20 min yoga session” for beginners and get started. For inspiration you can also get some ideas from me on instagram @kimmyinrhapsody and see my yoga video’s there. I even managed to achieve my splits (nothing to do with helping my lungs, but as a result of regular yoga, my flexibility is awesome!). WHY would you not want this?!
- General exercise – Cardio is important as it strengthens the respiratory muscles, so I try to incorporate walking ( I go out with my dog at least 25 mins per day)/ cross-trainer at the gym etc. I also go to the gym 4-5 times per week and invested in a Personal Trainer to help me with strength training. This can help you go a long way and also with increasing breathing capacity, controlled breaths, endurance etc.
- Diet- A no-brainer really, but I try to avoid processed foods. I don’t follow a strict diet, but my risk of losing weight means I need to eat lots, but lots of good stuff, so many greens, proteins, fruit and leafy green veg. Example on type of foods I consume are here and drinks wise, here.
- Regular check ups and medication- I’m lucky to have one of the best doctors in Scotland, that is proactive and really cares about my well-being. But making sure you have regular check ups to keep an eye on your lung function, trajectory, its trends etc are your KPI’s on how you’re doing, letting you know if you need to make any lifestyle adjustments etc. It’s also an opportunity for you to ask your doctors questions, for any extra help, changing medication etc. As for medication, take what you’ve been given religiously e.g COPD inhalers, antibiotics, any supportive supplements ( I have ginger root, Vitamin C and turmeric) etc.
- Planning, travel and clothing – Generally I keep and eye on the weather and pollution levels, which you can access from just about any weather app. If it’s going to be windy or I’m in London for example and I must go out (usually I try to avoid), I always wear my Vogmask.
COPD does NOT mean you should halt all things ( I did this for a while after being diagnosed and battling the stagnant mental negative thoughts that sucked me into a black, disabling self-pity party for a while!). But trust me, you if you can look up after falling down, you CAN- get up and do all that you can to lead a healthy, somewhat active and normal lifestyle. It’s more reassuring to know that you are trying, that to not try at all.