Your Wellness: A Work in Progress
Well hello, friends! I know that it has been a “hot minute” since I last posted a blog. I have missed communicating with you all each week and I am glad to say I am back in the saddle. I need to be honest with you all and tell you that I was getting frustrated with my blogging. I work countless hours each week to write a good blog and I rely heavily on social media to disseminate that information to people who have chronic lung conditions. As you all know, social media has been filled with COVID related information as well as having an emphasis on racism. These topics are definitely important to people scrolling through (including me) and social media outlets know that. Therefore, when I would post a blog about exercising or traveling when you have a lung condition… many of my readers wouldn’t see it. UGH! So, with my constant frustration and “let downs” after hours of cranking out new material while keeping my kids busy…. I decided I needed a vacation. We were scheduled to visit Hilton Head, SC as a family and so I left my laptop on my desk and told myself that it would be healthy for me and everyone else around me to give it a couple of weeks’ rest.
With that being said, I missed you all and I love hearing from you through email and social media. Our pulmonary rehab is still on a hiatus due to COVID-19. I am anxiously awaiting news of a reopening so that I can once again work with patients one on one and (let’s be honest) get a little extra “adult time” in each week. Many pulmonary rehabs are still trying to figure out how to provide their services safely to patients. No one wants their patients to feel as though they are taking a risk by coming in. So, if you are like many patients here in Virginia still not able to attend pulmonary rehab, know that we respiratory therapists, physical therapists, nurses, and other healthcare workers miss you and are hard at work on a plan for your return!
This week’s blog post is about how “your wellness is a work in progress.” I don’t know about you all, but back in March when we first started quarantine, my stress level was through the roof. I spent a ton of time watching the news and reading as much as I could on the Coronavirus. I think I ate anything that was in front of me (including my children’s fruit snacks). I didn’t exercise and all I could think about was how horrible a situation we were facing. Now, I am not usually a “gloom and doom” kind of girl, but the feeling of the unknown was scary. After about a month, I realized that weight gain and zero accountability to my health wasn’t going to turn out well.
Your wellness is always going to be a work-in-progress. I think many people when they face a challenging situation, have two options…. work hard or give up. Patients who have a chronic lung condition have to work hard every day. The alternative choice isn’t going to give you the quality of life that you want. Here are my suggestions for picking up the pieces and getting back on track with your wellness when you have a lung condition.
1. “Right the Ship” with your eating habits – We all have probably heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” This means that the food that you put into your body directly affects how you feel. If you have been eating like I was in the first month of COVID quarantine, it’s probably easy to see what areas you can improve on. Limit your consumption of processed foods and sweets. Start incorporating more fruits and vegetables. I’m not one to advocate for any fad diets but people with chronic lung conditions feel better when they eat a diet that includes lots of lean protein, fruits, and vegetables and they limit the amount of carbohydrates that they consume.
2. Don’t sit and rot. Move your body – It may not be safe to visit your local fitness center or your pulmonary rehab may not be open, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. One of the people in the last few months that has inspired me is a lady on Instagram named Sheryl. (Check her out on Instagram… @copdstrong) Sheryl is an amazing lady who posts herself exercising on Instagram while in the comfort of her living room. Her positive nature is infectious, and I love it when she pops across my newsfeed. So, Sheryl if you are reading this…. You are Amazing!!!! Just like Sheryl, you can find ways to move and get the exercise that you need to maintain your wellness. Start out by walking in place and get a stopwatch. Try to beat your time each day. You can see some other ideas that I came up with for cardio at home in my blog “Don’t lose ground. Cardio Workout Ideas for People with Lung Conditions.” There are also some great low impact workout videos on YouTube that you could also check out.
3. Don’t slack on taking your medications – Make sure that you continue to take your medications the right way at the right time of day. If you have gotten out of the habit of taking them routinely, reestablish a schedule. Check all medications (including over the counter) for their expiration dates. This is also a great time to check over your nebulizer, oxygen, and CPAP equipment to make sure they are functioning correctly and don’t need new parts. These “checks and balances” may not feel like they are part of working on your wellness, however how you feel can be directly impacted by your medical equipment’s capability.
4. Drink more water – I have been focusing on my hydration lately and I have to tell you that I definitely do feel a difference. Most of you know that the added water is great for your lungs helping you to mobilize secretions and cough more effectively. But believe it or not, I think that if I drink the amount of water that I am supposed to, that it curves my cravings and aids in my digestion immensely. The added hydration is also great for my joints which lately (at only 41) let me know who is boss. Overall when I am well hydrated…I just feel better...plain and simple.
5. Work on quitting bad habits – I don’t know about you all but COVID quarantine became a great time to pick up bad habits. Whether it was an extra glass of wine each night (me), that nightly bowl of ice cream, or simply just staying still too long…. Picking up a bad habit or two was easy to do with the added stress and isolation. In order to keep your wellness a work-in-progress, you need to identify bad habits and work to eliminate them. I’m not saying that drinking that extra glass of wine occasionally is wrong (because Lord we deserve it every now and then). But if you have started or extended a bad habit, continue to work on rectifying it and moving towards a happier, healthier you.
6. Don’t make excuses. Take action. – You can make progress with your wellness a little each day. Don’t go for the “overhaul.” I know many Americans in the past were drawn to television programs like “Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Makeover.” Keep in mind you are making changes so that you can be happy and healthy for the long haul not to see a major change and then revert back to your old ways. Decide what you need to do to improve your wellness and take action. Don’t be surprised if you have to change directions occasionally due to flare-ups and possible setbacks.
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