Moving Forward After Receiving a COPD Diagnosis
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is, as its name suggests, a chronic medical condition that takes work to effectively deal with and manage. As soon as the doctor says “COPD,” you begin the process of coping with your diagnosis.
Counselor Eric's Advice for Coping
There is both positive and negative coping after news like this. With positive coping, you will experience a level of comfort and understanding with your diagnosis. Your daily activities and routines will not change much. Your relationships will remain as satisfying as they were previously, and your mental health will stay strong. You will live a life that is only slightly impacted by your COPD diagnosis.
The risk is with negative coping, though. With negative coping, many facets of your life will falter. You will struggle to concentrate at work. You will be more irritable at home, creating rifts in your relationships. Your typical routines and rituals will give way to inactivity as depression and anxiety begin to take hold in your life.
Obviously, positive coping is the path to take. The trouble is that positive coping after a COPD diagnosis doesn't “just happen,” because the natural response after a chronic diagnosis is to slide to the negative end of the spectrum. Perhaps there are some fortunate enough to come through COPD smoothly and effortlessly, but the majority of people need a more concerted attack plan. Here’s yours.
Get Rid of Stress
Your ability to cope with a new event centers on decreasing the overall stress in your life. Subtracting the COPD is not a possibility, though — once the diagnosis is part of your life, there is no going back. With this being true, spending time, energy, and other limited resources trying to “undo” your COPD will only lead to frustration and disappointment. Instead, work towards identifying and changing what you do have control over.
Work on getting rid of stress by:
- Avoiding self-medication. It is a dangerous habit to begin at any point, but especially following a health diagnosis. Self-medication typically begins at a manageable level but quickly builds into a separate problem. It will negatively impact many aspects of your life in direct ways.
- Removing negative people from your life. If you cannot totally remove them from your life, think of ways to reduce their involvement or the power you allow them to have over you and your stress levels.
- Avoiding negative situations. What situations add stress to your life? Don't get discouraged if it feels like you have to give up a lot; COPD requires change for everyone.
If you only focus on removing the negatives, you will be left in a state of neutrality where you experience neither highs nor lows. This is a bland state and one to avoid. Once you have cleared out the dead weight, bring in some positives. Here’s how:
- Improve your physical health. Investigate ways your diet, exercise routine and sleep can be improved. These areas are simple but add so much to your health and overall well-being.