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December 20, 2016

Life in today’s world is stressful enough for most everyone.  Life complicated by COPD can be infinitely more stressful, for both the patient and for caregivers.  Health problems add a whole new layer of worry, of uncertainty, of financial concerns.  When we were running around with stone-tipped spears, a certain amount of stress was probably good.  It helped to keep us from winding up as lunch for something large and tooth-intensive.  Nowadays, we still get that same blast of adrenaline when you suddenly get short of breath or when the Government does something asinine without even checking with you!  Trouble is, modern stress can make you sick or exacerbate your condition, with no reward.


Some points to consider when dealing with stress:


Try to get enough sleep.  Getting an adequate night’s rest may prove elusive, but as we have discussed in other articles, fatigue can lead to a whole host of problems, not the least of which is the increasing of stress.


Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can lessen feelings of stress.  Use peaceful music, a hot bath, whatever it takes.


Exercise as much and as often as you can.  The very act of exercise has been proven to reduce stress, and the resultant strengthening of your muscles will make breathing, moving, and yes, even the exercise itself easier.


Organize your life.  Posting upcoming events and appointments on a calendar, either on paper or on your computer, will free your mind for more important things, such as watching Duck Dynasty or something.  Write stuff down!  Once committed to paper, you don’t have to remember it anymore.  You just have to remember to look at the list.  Hey, no system is perfect!  Organize your surroundings.  It will look better, make things easier to find, and save unnecessary steps.  Make a nest (a tidy one) where you spend most of your time.  Gather reading material, the remotes, your rescue inhaler, the phone, and a big glass of water so that you can reach them without wearing yourself out. 


Simplify your life.  What are you tripping over, walking around, or still paying for that you don’t even need?  Sell it, give it to someone less fortunate, or, if it is something really ugly, leave it on your neighbor’s lawn some dark night.  (Okay, maybe not…)


Watch out for alcohol or recreational drugs.  They can develop dependencies with which you really don’t want to deal.


Check with your physician about anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications that might help.  Again, be careful.


Eat wisely.  Aim for nutrition and variety and shy away from most fast foods.  They can be high in fats, sodium, and calories.  Eat small portions and avoid eating too much at any one time.  Full tummies can make it hard to breathe.


Control your spending.  In today’s economy it is more important than ever to stay aware of bargains, (on stuff you need) and unnecessary expenses.  Nothing kicks stress into gear like a pile of unpaid bills!


If you can, help others.  Charities or hospitals are always looking for people to help out.  If you are unable to actively volunteer, at least be nice to your caregiver or caregivers.  It is hard to dwell on your own stress when you are concerned with the well-being of others.


Uncle Jim & Aunt Mary


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