New Year, New You...7 Things to Improve In the New Year for People with Lung Conditions
Everyone always talks about New Year’s resolutions. Many people make the resolution to lose weight, make more money, or spend less. But let’s be honest, as the old saying goes… “resolutions are meant to be broken” and by March, many people are back to their old habits and lifestyle. My challenge to my readers is to make a promise not a resolution to yourselves to make your health and wellness a priority in this new year because as we know… promises are meant to be kept. Your health matters and as much as we try to do and be there for others (and I am guilty of this) we need to put our health first. So I am going to talk about things that you can do to improve or stay on top of your health. If you are doing all of these already… You are on your game and I encourage you to keep it up. But if there are areas that need improvement, make a promise not a resolution to make these apart of your 2019 and beyond.
7 Things to Improve in the New Year for People with Lung Conditions
1. Hydrate – Not everyone is a huge fan of the taste of water… I get it. Water though is very helpful to people with lung conditions for a multitude of reasons. One of the biggest reasons lung patients should drink water regularly is because it thins any mucous you have in your lungs and makes it easier to cough up. Water helps to naturally flush toxins from our body, it lubricates our airways and nasal passages, and moisturizes your skin. Water will aide in your digestion helping your stomach and intestine move food along. Many physicians also believe that dehydration leads to “fuzzy thinking” and lowers brain function. So if you drink water, but clearly agree that you probably don’t drink enough, start by adding one extra glass or ½ glass to your daily routine. I know many times I have made the resolution to drink more and I end up waterboarding myself and this resolution is broken. My success has come from promising to add more water gradually to my diet and that promise is kept because it was done slowly and I didn’t “float away” in the process. Get yourself a fun cup (insulated or decorated ) to entice you to drink or a water infuser bottle that you can add fun things to your water like slices of citrus, berries, or mint to. (My hubby gave me the one I have featured below for my birthday and I love it.) For those of you who have been asked to limit your fluid intake by your physician then I challenge you to make a promise to yourself that the fluids that you can drink will add a benefit to your overall health. Check out my SHOP page if you want a BreatheLiveFit cup!
2. Check the box on doctors visits and procedures- With as many visits as lung patients have to make to their primary care and pulmonary physicians, we often forget about other areas of your health that may require a little of our attention. I understand when you are focusing on a chronic illness you want to prioritize that first. My suggestion though is that at the beginning of the year schedule some visits throughout the year with specialists that you may have put on the back burner. See your dermatologist for a skin check, women see your gynecologists for a yearly exam, and don’t forget to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist or optometrist to make sure there are no issues with vision or eye health. Also, schedule tests and procedures if they are due like mammograms and colonoscopies. You will have peace of mind that you have checked all the boxes in other areas of your health that may have otherwise not had your attention last year.
3. Work on your fitness- Many lung patients are already doing things to increase their strength and endurance. Whether it be attending a pulmonary rehab, working out at home, or exercising at their local fitness center… many lung patients are trying to do their best by incorporating some sort of exercise in their weekly routine. However, it is easy to get into an exercise rut and the activities that you are doing are either not challenging your muscle groups or they are frankly becoming boring. Make a promise to yourself to challenge yourself with your exercise routine. In our pulmonary rehab, we tell patients to “exercise to the point of stretch.” For example if you always walk 10 minutes on a treadmill… try for 10 ½ or 11 the next time you work out or do an extra couple of repetitions with your weights. The other thing you can do is mix it up! Try out a yoga class or aqua aerobics if your exercise is starting to get boring. Coordinate a group of workout buddies to share the experience… having friends to meet up with will also help with accountability and your will be less likely to skip your workout for the day.
4. Eat healthily – You knew I was going to go there right?! Yes…make a promise to yourself that you will make gradual changes with your healthy eating habits. Now I’m not saying jump on the band wagon and try the next diet craze! What I am saying is make gradual changes with your diet to help make you a healthier you. For instance, if you have been hitting fast food drive thrus frequently… set a limit on the amount of times you will go each week or each month. If you eat fried foods, make a promise to yourself that you are going to replace fried food with grilled or baked. If you have been slacking on eating fruits and vegetables, set a goal on how many servings you want to try to eat each day and make it happen. You see, making small changes in your diet are more “doable” and sustainable than making a drastic one. Once you get in a habit of your new change… try another, then another and in time… You might surprise yourself with the results.
5. Create or Maintain Your Tribe- I have talked about this in a past blog about what a strong support system can do for you. It is so important to surround yourself with supportive, positive people in your life. Everyone wants to feel they have a tribe of people they can count on but it does take effort to maintain relationships. Make phone calls, send texts and emails, reach out on social media and it will be reciprocated. You will enjoy having relationships with people that you can count on when the going gets tough or if you just want to get out of the house and do something fun. Stay connected.
6. Think Time – According to the National Institute on Aging, as we age older adults may have “increased difficulty finding words and recalling names, more problems multi-tasking, and mild decreases in the ability to pay attention.” Challenging your brain can help you to increase or maintain memory function and improve your overall mental health. Read each day. Solve crossword puzzles in your local newspaper or find a book filled with crossword puzzles, Sudoku and the like. Coordinate card games like bridge, poker, and rummy. Tune into Jeopardy at night and try and answer the questions before the contestants. Assemble a jigsaw puzzle. All of these activities are wonderful for brain health and will help to boost memory and attention.
7. Get Your ZZZs- Having an adequate amount of sleep is essential to breathing comfortably. When people with lung conditions are over tired, they have trouble maintaining their own level of breathlessness. Anything and everything they do is going to seem harder and create a sense of more shortness of breath. If you aren’t a great sleeper, you may want to mention it to your pulmonary physician and possibly have a sleep study done. Try and take time for a nap each day especially if you didn’t sleep well the night before. Keep a bedtime and wake up around the same time each day in order to stay on a consistent schedule. To reduce stress, get away from the hustle and bustle in order to give yourself a mental time out.
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Until next time y’all!!! <3 Christina
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