There is Strength in Numbers. 6 Ways to Find Support When You Have a Chronic Lung Condition
Last week, I really wanted to focus on tips that would help people with lung conditions get through Thanksgiving easier and with less breathlessness. (See Thanksgiving Holiday Tips Blog) I really wish for my readers to be confident going into the day and most importantly, I want them to enjoy themselves. In pulmonary rehab, we often discuss that we need to be improving our strength and endurance for a purpose. That purpose is to enjoy life to the fullest. Now, that may mean figuring out our “new normal” and how to cope with our breathing condition, but still trying to enjoy and be thankful for each day that we have.
It absolutely breaks my heart when I meet patients that feel like they are all alone. Whether they didn’t have a close family to begin with or their friends have fallen by the wayside, they feel like they have no one to turn to for support. There’s no doubt that when you are living with a chronic lung condition it can be very alienating, but I am here this week to give you all ideas on how to build a support system that you can be thankful and blessed to have.
The following are 6 Ideas on Ways to Build Your Support System:
Rekindle old friendships – As a busy wife and mom of 3, I can be the first to tell you that it can be difficult at times in my life to keep a “friendship fire” burning. Often time, I let my responsibilities of motherhood, church commitments, blog commitments, and just “stuff” get in the way of communicating with friends that I LOVE. With the advent of Facebook and other social media platforms, I feel like at least I have some idea as to what my friends are up to. If you are missing those friends that you use to communicate with regularly… reach out! Trust me, it will mean so much to them that you were thinking of them as it will to you to get back in touch. Having friends that check in on you from time to time is such a wonderful feeling and will make you feel loved and appreciated in so many ways. Use Facetime and Skype to have conversations face to face if they live a long distance away. Keep the conversations positive and make plans for the future to get together.
Attend local support group meetings- There is nothing like being in a room with people who know what it is like to have a lung condition. These support groups are not filled with people that have the “woe is me’s” but people who want to learn more and feel empowered to find out all they can know on their lung condition and living the best life that they can. Many times these groups will schedule local experts on different topics and post them on their websites in advance. These meetings are often half social and half educational. Find new friends and learn something… now that’s a group I would love to be a part of!
Attend service and/or get involved in your church/temple/synagogue/center – I know my faith is a major component of not only putting me in the best frame of mind to get through my struggles but with consistent attendance I have built a “church family” that supports me. Having a common thread of beliefs connects people quickly and builds friendships. Add activities associated with your place of worship to your calendar. Knowing that you are planning on attending future fun events and programs gives anyone who is feeling lonely something to look forward to.
Start family traditions to gather family members together– It’s never too late to start a fun family tradition and the holidays are a great time to come up with some really great ideas. My family has always enjoyed attending Santa breakfasts and holiday choral concerts to really bring in the feeling of the holidays. In the Spring, we coordinate egg hunts and vacations to spend more time together. This time of year progressive dinners, pot lucks, ornament / present exchanges, tacky light tours, and cookie baking are fun things (and easy for lung patients) to include family members. It doesn’t take many people to make these activities enjoyable and memorable.
Join support groups on social media – In the last few months, I have become very familiar with the way many people with lung conditions are connecting to others with similar diagnosis and that is through online support groups. These groups are such a wealth of information for those struggling from day to day with the emotions and stress of managing a chronic condition. There are SO MANY support groups on Facebook targeting specific lung conditions and can aide you to better understand your diagnosis and know that you have the same symptoms that others are experiencing.
Get involved in your community- Civic groups are a great way to join your neighbors and community members in helping to improve the area you live in. It is a wonderful way to meet new friends and get involved with community events that can help to make you feel more connected to the area that you are living in. The meetings are often monthly but you can increase your involvement by getting involved in projects and event planning.
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