Enjoy the Season. 14 Holiday Tips for People with Lung Conditions
I love the holidays. It’s a time I get to really spend some quality time with family without the hustle and bustle of heading back to work the next day. I enjoy the sounds, the smells, and of course the taste of the holidays. Yes, it’s definitely a “wonderful time of the year” however, for many people with lung conditions, the holidays bring on a new level of stress. People who have chronic lung conditions are thrown out of their normal routine of eating regularly, getting enough sleep, and the added stress of being gone from their homes for an extended period of time. The reality is that people with a lung diagnosis have to head into the holidays with some preplanning and a little extra thought. However, with the following tips, I am pretty sure that each of you will be ready and willing to celebrate in style.
Here are 14 Holiday Tips for People with Lung Conditions
1. Take a seat – we all want to contribute so that the meals are a success. If you want to assist with meal preparation, find a seat somewhere in the kitchen to chop, mix, or prepare the food. Allowing yourself to sit will help you to conserve some of your energy while helping to prepare the meal.
2. Don’t starve yourself before the big meal – If you avoid eating breakfast or lunch before holiday meals you may go through the day with hunger pains and be more inclined to overeat during the holiday meal. Also, not eating will contribute to lower energy levels when it comes to managing your normal level of breathlessness. Low Energy = Feeling More Breathless
3. If you wear oxygen, account for your time away from the house. - Don’t let your oxygen put you on a time restraint (or others) when it comes to enjoying the holidays. Bring enough tanks or battery power for concentrators to last double the time you plan on staying. That way if you are really enjoying yourself, you can stay as long as you wish. You may also want to think about arriving a few minutes early, so that you can park close and find a comfortable place to sit.
4. Stay hydrated – It goes without saying that people with lung conditions should drink plenty of water. I have mentioned before that water is great for your lungs. It helps to hydrate any thick sputum you have in your lungs and makes it easier to mobilize. It is great for your skin, keeping it from drying out easily. There are just so many benefits to your body that it really deserves its own blog post! Nevertheless, I am one of those people that has to remind herself to hydrate. Bring a bottle of water with you in your purse or bag and remember to refill it often.
5. Eat slowly – Taking large bites of food or eating too fast can cause breathlessness from bloating. Bloating can cause you to feel breathless due to your stomach getting in the way of your diaphragm working effectively. Take your time eating along with sipping water periodically throughout the meal to aid in digestion. Stop eating when you feel full. Lose the temptation to go back for 2nds and 3rds.
6. Shop online for groceries – If you had asked me 10 years ago whether I thought we would be able to buy our groceries online; I wouldn’t have even imagined it. Now in the U.S. more and more grocery stores are moving toward an online ordering system and this could not be more convenient for people with lung conditions. Yes, walking the grocery store aisles can give you great exercise, but if it causes you stress, the online ordering system is a wonderful option. You can order the exact ingredients that you need at most grocery stores and either pick them up at a designated time of your choice or some grocery stores offer delivery to your home. As a busy mom of three young kiddos, I love it!
7. Keep Exercising – it is really easy during the holidays to give up our normal exercise routine. Don’t do it! Exercise helps you to continue to feel stronger as well as helps you to reduce stress. Invite houseguests or family members to join you for exercise to mix things up a bit and keep you company.
8. Make smart food choices. - Avoid putting large quantities of the foods that have little nutritional value on your plate. Try starting off with a small sampling of the indulgences and eat more of the lean protein and vegetables that are available. Don’t over salt or sweeten your food. Try your food first before sprinkling anything extra on top. Wait a while and allow your food to settle after the meal is complete before treating yourself to dessert. Take only a small portion to enjoy.
9. Prepare- I know, I know… you all hear me say it all the time, but I can’t reiterate it enough. Make sure you have taken your breathing medications the right way, at the right times. (See Inhaler Blog) Bring your rescue inhaler with you if you are celebrating away from your home. Don’t run out. Make sure that you have enough doses to get you through the holiday without running out.
10. Make it a potluck. - If you are willing to host your family and friends at your own home, don’t take on the responsibility of making all the food yourself. Have your friends and family bring their best dishes to share. Make a list of the courses that you need and have each guest notify you in advance of what they are bringing. This will help to limit the stress of preparing all the food at your home (including washing all the dirty dishes this creates) as well as the cost of feeding all of your guests.
11. Use Disposables – Sometimes using plates, serve ware, and cutlery that you can toss in the trash when done can save you the hassle of the “big clean up” at the end of the meal. Don’t feel bad that you aren’t pulling out the “fine china.” Your guests will probably appreciate the fact that the dishes are fewer and the clean-up is faster.
12. Get your rest – Make sure you attempt to get a good night’s sleep prior to the holiday. Having enough rest will allow you to have more stamina, control your breathlessness, and overall enjoy the holiday more. Also, make sure you plan to spend time after the holiday relaxing. Don’t put a lot on your plate the next day. You will feel tired from celebrating the day before and so a day of rest and relaxation will be just the thing you need.
13. Take your medications – Although there can be a lot going on, don’t forget to take your medications the right way at the right time of day. You don’t want to skip out on medications that your body needs and feel the repercussion of it later. If there is a chance that you might not return home in time to take your meds, bring a dose with you so that you don’t get behind or off schedule.
14. Give Thanks – Holidays are a time to think about what you appreciate in life. Gratitude can have a positive impact on your health and that of your loved ones. Although with a chronic condition it may be challenging, it’s important to find things to be grateful for and people to be grateful towards. Studies have shown that gratitude can relieve depression, lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.
Thanks for Reading and Happy Holidays!
If you enjoyed this blog, I invite you to check out some of the topics I have covered in the past
Remember: We are in this TOGETHER!
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