Get Rid of Stress
- Work on relationships. Your task is finding the people who improve the quality of your life. If they are already present in your life, find ways to spend more time together. Seek out clubs or groups involved with issues or causes you are interested in pursuing. Establish relationships with friends and family, online and in person, to achieve well-rounded success.
- Strengthen spiritual health. Medical conditions force you to assess your own mortality, and strengthening your spiritual health may be useful for you. Whether you decide to attend a church or something decidedly nontraditional, there is much to gain from exploring and expanding your spiritual health.
- Focus on mental health. Chronic medical conditions also target your mental health, and can bring about depression and anxiety. Fight back against this by working on your psychological well-being. Therapy is a useful tool for anyone going through a life-altering medical diagnosis.
COPD is not the end. In fact, the diagnosis is only the beginning of the rest of your life. Failure to act with purpose ensures negative coping, worsening symptoms and emergence of new problems, but swift and directed thoughts and behaviors will boost your likelihood of successfully coping with COPD.
The pressure is on, since the power is in your hands. Don’t let that pressure overwhelm you. Let it compel you to amazing levels of coping. COPD doesn’t stand a chance.
Russell's Road to Accepting COPD
I remember very clearly the day I sat in my specialist’s office wondering, “How did I get here?” Being told you have lung disease conjures up many emotions and means a big life adjustment; how we move on from this largely depends on accepting the diagnosis.
Many COPD patients I come across are at varying stages of acceptance of their disease — some have accepted the cards they've been dealt and are working towards improving their quality of life, but too many are stuck in a place where they either don't accept their diagnosis or don't understand what's happening to them.
When I meet a COPD patient who is still smoking and ask them why, their responses vary from, “Well, my parents smoked 'til they died and they lived a long life,” to “Well, you gotta die of something.”
To me these responses indicate denial, which is a dangerous road to travel with COPD — the longer you leave your disease unmanaged, the quicker your health will deteriorate.
How Did It Come to This?
Pre-diagnosis some people suspect they have a serious problem, whereas I just thought my asthma had become worse. Up until my diagnosis, I'd been leading a healthy lifestyle and was exercising regularly. When my specialist told me I had COPD I had no idea what it was or what it meant for my future.
When you’re told your lung capacity is 22 percent, it's a little hard to comprehend — but unfortunately spirometry tests don't lie. I think if I had been told my COPD was mild it would have been easier to accept. I still find it hard to believe my airways reached the stage they did without me realizing how much they had deteriorated.
On reflection, I realized I had smoked on and off for 30 years and for too much of that time was inactive, overweight and didn't manage my asthma well at all. It then become apparent to me why I ended up with COPD, and I'm lucky I realized when I did.