Managing a lifelong, chronic disease like COPD can take a lot of time, energy, and motivation. Even if you have a straightforward treatment plan, adhering to that plan perfectly and consistently every day can be a challenge and a drain on your mental resources.
Many people with COPD have difficulty fitting medication and lifestyle changes into their daily life. As a result, many patients find themselves missing medications, skimping on physical activity, or giving up on their healthy diet and nutrition plan.
If you don't have a good system and routine for taking care of yourself and your COPD, it can take a huge toll on your life and severely disrupt your daily routine. And if your daily life is chaotic, it makes it all too easy to give up on things like your hobbies, interests, and social life that are vital for a happy, healthy life.
But living with COPD doesn't have to be isolating or anxiety-inducing. There are a multitude of ways to simplify and streamline your daily activities to make managing your COPD much easier.
This article includes more than 60 tips and life hacks you can use right now to simplify your life and make caring for yourself and your COPD much easier. All you have to do is take these tips to heart and put them to work in your everyday life, and you'll soon be managing your COPD like a pro.
Tips for Hacking your Medication Routine
1. Keep Your Pills in an Obvious, Convenient Place
If you have difficulty remembering to take your medication at the right times, you might need to put them in a more convenient spot. Put some thought into where you are most likely to notice them to help remind you as you go about your day.
It's best to keep them out on the counter in a part of the house where you spend a lot of time rather than tucked away in a cabinet. Consider keeping your medication in the kitchen if you take your pills at mealtimes, or keep nighttime pills ready by your bedside for maximum convenience.
2. Use Containers or Pillboxes to Manage Your Pills
Pill organizing containers are great because they make it easy to keep track of your pills and when you need to take them so that you'll never forget to take a medication. They also allow you to set out your pills ahead of time so that you can stay on top of your medicine schedule without having to dedicate any brain power to it during the week.
3. Set Timers
While some lucky people can remember important tasks and times without any reminders, most of us need assistance to remember to do things at certain times. That's why you should always set alarms for when it's time to take your medication instead of relying on your memory alone.
If you have a cell phone or watch, you can set alarms to remind you every single time you need to take your medication. You can make a note on each alarm to remind you what medication it's for and even set a unique alarm sound for each medicine.
If you set up recurring alarms, you'll only have set them once and they will automatically repeat day after day and week after week so you never have to worry about it again. If you don't know how to do it yourself, have a friend or family member help you, or follow these tutorials for Android (https://www.askdavetaylor.com/can-i-set-a-repeating-alarm-in-android/) and iPhone.(https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207512)
4. Use Smart Medication Technology
There's a whole new market for “smart,” wireless pill bottles that help you keep track of how many pills you have and even when to take them. Some can be set to give you physical reminders by chiming and flashing, and can even send customized reminders to your email or smartphone if you happen to miss a dose.
Although this technology is relatively new and pricey, it's a great all-in-one option for anyone who has trouble taking medication on time, especially when other techniques don't seem to work. Some smart pill bottle options include Pillsy, AdhereTech, and SMRxT.
5. Remind Yourself with Notes and Post-its
Setting timers and using smart technology works great for many people, but sometimes the old-fashioned methods work better than anything else. You can use a physical calendar to mark what medications you take on which dates and cross them off when you take them.
Another time-honored technique is the post-it method. To remind yourself to take your medication throughout the day, write a note to yourself on a sticky note and leave it where you're certain to see it when you need to.
It's best to leave sticky note reminders on places you're likely to look at the same times every day. Many people have success posting them on their bathroom mirror, work desk, fridge, or on their front door.
6. Lump Your Medicine in with Another Daily Routine
Many people find it's easiest to remember to take their medication if they pair it with another task they do every day. Think of an activity you do reliably at the same time every day, and use that habit to remind you to take your medicine.
You could pair morning or afternoon medications with activities like exercising, brushing your teeth, or eating a meal. Remember to take evening medications by pairing them with activities like watching a favorite show, taking a walk, or preparing for bed. Mealtimes work great as reminders, too!
Diet Tips and Life Hacks for Better Nutrition
7. Start Simple and Go One Step at a Time
Going all out with a brand new diet or trying to do too much at once is a recipe for failure. When you want to make long-term, sustainable changes to your eating habits, it's best to start small.
Think about some simple ways you can replace foods in your diet with healthier versions. You could try opting for wheat pasta or wheat bread instead of processed, white grains, or make the switch to buying low-sodium versions of your favorite snacks.
Start by making small changes, one or two things at a time, and then add more healthy choices after you've mastered the previous step. If you take it slow and steady and give yourself time to adjust, you'll find that improving your diet and nutrition doesn't have to be hard or unpleasant. It just takes consistency and determination.
8. Make Healthy Snacks Easier to Access
Source: Martijn van Exel
Oftentimes we get stuck in the habit of snacking on chips and processed snacks because they are easy and convenient. Healthy snacks, by contrast, often take time and effort to prepare.
Luckily, all you have to do is prepare nutritious snacks ahead of time to turn the tables around in favor of healthy foods. Anticipate your snacking moods by chopping up fresh fruits and veggies or preparing healthier, homemade versions of your favorite processed snacks.
You can make low-sugar and low-salt versions of many foods, including potato chips, yogurt, crackers, and granola. You can also mix up your own trail mix or buy healthier snacks like fruit bars from the store.
The main idea is to make healthy foods more available and convenient than unhealthy foods. If you always have some healthy snacks ready to grab, most of the time you won't even be tempted to go for the unhealthy ones.
9. Eat More Slowly
This might not be the most new or creative way to reduce calories or avoid overeating, but it's truly effective. Eating slowly works to help you eat less overall because it allows the food to settle in your stomach and make you feel full.
It takes time, sometimes 5-10 minutes or more, for your stomach to recognize you've had enough food and tell your brain to stop eating. So if you spread out your meals over a longer period of time, you'll start to feel full before you've eaten too much, instead of after.
10. Trick Yourself into Better Portion Control
A common cause of overeating and poor nutrition is improper portion control. It's easy to get used to piling large quantities of food on your plate to the point that anything less just doesn't seem like enough.
One way to trick yourself into eating less is to plate your food on smaller dishes. Putting a healthy portion on a large plate leaves too much empty space and makes the amount of food seem measly, but if you put it on a small plate your brain will hardly recognize the difference.
11. Sneak in More Veggies
Source: Scott Veg
Ideally, you should be eating fresh veggies with every meal. But that doesn't just mean raw veggies from the produce section; frozen vegetables are often just as nutritious and more convenient to keep around for cooking.
If you have trouble stomaching a variety of veggies, try using them in new ways and in new recipes. You can even disguise them by pureeing them and adding them to pasta sauces, meatballs, and other mixtures. In the right meal with the right spices, you won't even know that they're there!
12. Don't Skip Breakfast
Living with COPD can be exhausting and fatiguing, partially because it requires your lungs to work harder and burn more energy to function. That's why it's very important not to skip meals, especially breakfast, so your body has a steady supply of fuel throughout the day.
13. Eat Smaller Meals Throughout the Day
Eating more frequent, smaller meals is not only good for your metabolism and digestive system, but it can help with COPD symptoms as well. Eating large meals or overeating causes your stomach to expand and press on your diaphragm, causing discomfort and difficulty breathing.
Try reducing the size of your lunch and dinner and adding some planned snacks throughout the day. Some nutritionists even recommend eating 4-5 smaller meals spaced throughout the day instead of 2-3 big ones like most people do.
14. Get Creative with Your Fruits and Veggies
If the thought of snacking on raw fruits and veggies isn't appealing to you, try getting a little creative! With a juicer or blender you can make all kinds of healthy juices and smoothies using any kind of fruit or vegetable.
You can also try drying out fresh veggies and fruits to make delicious, healthy snacks to munch on at home or on the go. Just chop the produce up thin and lay it out on a baking pan, and add any seasonings you'd like (cinnamon and nutmeg are great for fruits!). Then all you have to do is pop them in your oven on the lowest heat setting and let them bake until they're all dried out.
15. Drink Water to Avoid Snacking and Overeating
Sometimes we feel hungry when, in reality, we're actually thirsty. The best way to find out which one it is, is to drink a big glass of water.
Chances are, if your body doesn't actually need food, your craving will go away within just a few minutes. If not, at least you're keeping yourself hydrated, and you will eat less with the water helping to fill you up.
16. Keep a Food Journal
Source: Ryan Snyder
It's hard to improve your diet if you're not tracking what you eat. Keeping a food journal will help you better understand your current diet, recognize your progress, and identify areas where you can improve.
Food journals also help keep you accountable, so you can't “sneak” in snacks and unhealthy foods without considering the consequences. Just make sure not to leave anything out, even your “cheat” foods; after all, the only person you'd be deceiving and hurting is yourself.
Life Hacks and Tips for Getting Enough Exercise
17. Slip in Micro Workouts Throughout Your Day
When your days are busy it can be difficult to find enough free time to get all the exercise you need. If you struggle with this, you can try filling in the gaps by doing mini workouts or stretches throughout the day.
You can do a mini workout any time you have 30-seconds to a few minutes of down-time. Once you start looking for chances to fit them in, you'll realize that you have dozens of random opportunities throughout the day to do a couple stretches or leg lifts.
Here are some micro-workout opportunities to look out for:
- While waiting for food to cook in the microwave or oven
- During commercial breaks on TV
- Anytime you are waiting (e.g. while waiting for the shower to get warm, or for a guest to arrive, or for the bus or train, etc.)
- During down-time in between activities
18. Get a Fitness Tracker
If you need some extra help motivating yourself to stay active, try using a fitness band or pedometer to track your steps. You'll be surprised at how encouraging and motivating it is to watch your step count in real time throughout the day.
Some fitness bands also have extra features that can help you keep track of your health goals. You can find ones that help you track your calories, the length and quality of your sleep, and give you detailed charts and reports on your daily physical activity.
19. Stay Home
If you find that getting out the door is the hardest part of sticking to your exercise routine, an easy remedy is to just work out at home, instead.
Don't worry, you don't need to buy any special or expensive equipment if you don't want to. All you need is your body and a space big enough to move around.
There are thousands of exercise tapes and DVD's you can follow along with at home, and you can find thousands more on YouTube and elsewhere online. You can even choose from dozens of different styles and techniques—including aerobics, Tai Chi, Zumba, dancing, and much more—to keep it interesting and fun.
Here are some links to exercise videos that can help you stay in shape at home:
- Basic exercises and stretches for older adults (https://eldergym.com/exercises.html)
- Exercises to improve symptoms of COPD from the NHS (http://www.nhs.uk/Video/Pages/Pulmonaryrehabilitation.aspx)
- Recommended fitness DVD's for people with COPD (https://www.verywell.com/copd-exercises-914858)
20. Pay Yourself
Adults often offer rewards to children to convince them do things they don't want to do, but seldom think to use the same technique on themselves. Believe it or not, incentives and rewards can actually be a very effective motivation tool for adults, too.
Try taking the money that you would have spent on a gym membership and pay it to yourself for working out, instead! Spend that extra $20-$100 on something extra for yourself, as a treat for practicing self-discipline.
Make sure you budget it out and decide whether to pay yourself after every week, every month, etc. This method only works if you stick to the rules and only give yourself the prize money after you've reached your workout goals.
21. Break Your Workouts into Smaller Time Blocks
Some people like to get all their physical activity for the day in at once, in one long, intense workout. But many people, especially people with COPD, find that long, grueling workouts just don't work for them.
That's why breaking up physical activity into smaller, bite-sized chunks is a more effective exercise method for many people. Instead of dreading an hour-long workout all day, you can plan two or three short, painless 20-minute blocks of exercise to make it less daunting.
22. Set a Timer (Or Start a TV Show)
When it's time for your scheduled workout, set a timer so your brain knows there's a definite endpoint. You can start a video or TV show of the appropriate length to serve the same purpose (20 or 40-minute TV series work great).
When you break your exercise into smaller segments and set a time limit for yourself, you'll likely find that it's much easier to motivate yourself to get started and stay going. With the clock ticking down and a definite end in sight, it will be much easier to push yourself toward your activity goals.
You can boost your motivation even further by reserving a special show or video that you only let yourself watch during workouts. That will give you something extra special to look forward to every time you work out!
23. Choose Active Options
Source: Jonathan Lin
Every day you are faced with all kinds of minor choices, many of them having to do with physical activity.
You can choose between taking the elevator or stairs, or between a parking space at the back of the lot or a space near the door. How you decide when faced with these kinds of options can make a big difference in your overall amount of daily physical activity.
Consciously choosing to take the stairs wherever you go or replacing drives across the parking lot with a short stroll can truly add up over time. The best part is that it will hardly take any extra time, so you can get a little extra exercise without sacrificing your hobbies!
24. Bring a Friend
The hardest part of exercising is convincing yourself to actually get up and do it in the first place. That's when a workout buddy can make a huge difference.
If you schedule your workouts ahead of time with a friend it will be harder to change your mind or cancel on a whim. On days when you feel worn out or just don't feel like exercising, having a workout buddy to encourage you can be just the push you need to follow through.
25. Be Consistent
If you have difficulty getting enough exercise and physical activity, then you probably aren't following a consistent routine. Scheduling workouts at the same times every week and committing to them in advance is the best way to stick to a physical activity regimen.
If you've ever tried to stick to an exercise routine in the past, then you've probably experienced this first hand. When you work out on the same days every week, you'll build the habit fast and motivating yourself will become easier and easier every time.
However, when you vary your physical activity days or let yourself skip workouts, it's often very difficult to stay motivated and get back on track. Even though changes in your life and schedule are always inevitable, do your best to stick to your exercise plan no matter what. Even minor breaks in your weekly workout routine can set you back.
Tips for Staying Hydrated with COPD
26. Get a Reusable Water Bottle
There are endless options for reusable water bottles, whether you want something sleek and simple or bright and stylish. You can find lightweight plastic ones with built-in straws and heavy-duty stainless steel bottles with twist-top lids—it doesn't matter what you get, as long as you take the time to shop around for one that fits your needs and style.
When picking out your new water bottle, be thinking about comfort and convenience first of all. What features would make it convenient for you to carry around, or easy to sip on? After all, you'll ideally be taking your new water bottle with you everywhere!
Once you find one that's attractive and convenient enough to use every day, the challenge is to remember to keep it with you and use it. With any luck, you'll be able to find a bottle you look forward to using, and it will help remind you to drink water throughout the day.
When You Crave Sugary Drinks, Try Water First
Kicking a soda habit is hard, and sugary drinks are a temptation everywhere you go. But there's one simple, easy trick you can use that's surprisingly effective at killing a craving for sugary drinks—a big glass of water.
Anytime you feel yourself tempted to grab a soda, energy drink, or anything that's not water, stop yourself for a moment and drink some water instead. Chances are, you're just thirsty, and once the water settles in your stomach your craving will magically disappear!
Even if it doesn't get rid of your craving right away, drinking water first will help you drink less of whatever other less-healthy drink you desire.
28. Set Goals
For many people setting exercise and diet goals is common sense, but few people think to set goals for staying hydrated. If you have difficulty drinking enough water every day, take the time to make a hydration plan and set concrete goals.
Although every person's water needs are different, six 8-oz cups of water a day is a good general rule. If drinking this much water doesn't come naturally to you, you might need to set alarms throughout the day to remind you to hydrate and make a deliberate effort to drink water at mealtimes.
Another great ideas is to use a extra-large sized water bottle to remind you how much water you need throughout the day. You can even use a sharpie to make tic marks on the side to correspond with different hours of the day, so it's always easy to tell if you need to drink more water.
29. Space it Out
Even if you somehow managed to drink all six cups of water for the day all at once in the morning, you'd likely still be dehydrated by evening. That's why it's important hydrate at regular intervals and space out your cups of water throughout the day.
Spacing out when you hydrate will also help you build the habit of remembering to drink water regularly. After awhile, you'll naturally feel thirsty and remember to hydrate throughout the day without even having to think about it.
30. Always Keep Water Easily Available
Source: Rubermaid Products on Flickr
The best way to keep yourself hydrated is to keep water nearby and easily accessible at all times. That way you never ignore a pang of thirst or reach for a more convenient, less-healthy option like soda.
It can help to keep a couple giant, reusable water bottles always filled up in the fridge so you always have one to grab on-the-go. It can also help to plan ahead for thirst and place bottles of water in strategic places around your home and workplace for whenever you need them.
31. Start Every Day with a Big Glass of Water
If you're using some of the other tips on this list, you should already have a fresh, cold bottle of water waiting in the fridge when you get up in the morning. Even if you don't, take a moment to fill up and drink a large glass of water first thing when you get up.
After not drinking water all night while you sleep, you wake up sluggish and dehydrated. Hydrating your body first thing in the morning is one of the best things you can do to shake off drowsiness and feel energized.
32. Make Water More Enticing by Adding Flavor
When you're hot and thirsty, nothing tastes better than an ice cold drink of water. But at other times water can seem boring and tasteless.
When you're feeling like you need something a little more tasty and exciting than plain water, consider flavoring some water yourself, naturally. Instead of drinking soda or another sugary drink, fill up a pitcher with water, your favorite fruit, and let it sit for awhile to infuse the water with a subtle, fruity flavor.
Here are some ideas for making your own delicious, nutritious flavored water:
- Use fresh, ripe fruit with citrusy flavors (oranges, lemons, pineapple, and watermelon work great!)
- Squeeze the fruit as you add it to the water to get as much out of it as possible, or use a spoon or muddler to crush up less-juicy fruits like cherries and berries.
- If you don't have fresh fruit around, frozen fruits work great as well
- Try adding some herbs like mint, basil, lavender, or rosemary to complement fruity flavors
- Get a water bottle or pitcher with a separate compartment for fruit infusion, or simply fill a regular mason jar or pitcher with fruit and strain the water out after infusing.
- Check out this website for a number of great fruit-infused water recipes (http://www.theyummylife.com/Flavored_Water)
Life Hacks for Better Sleep with COPD
33. Prop Yourself Up
Lying flat on your back can be uncomfortable and make it harder to breathe, especially when you have COPD. Instead, prop up your head and shoulders with extra pillows or a buy yourself a wedge pillow that's designed specifically for this purpose.
Keeping your head and shoulders elevated also helps excess mucous drain, keeping it from building up in your airways and making it even more difficult to breathe.
34. Avoid Screens and other Distractions in Bed
While it might be tempting to browse the web or read another e-book chapter before you drift off to sleep, you should avoid bringing your laptop or phone to bed with you. Looking at a bright screen late at night messes up your body's sleep cycle, makes falling asleep more difficult, and leaves you feeling less rested when you wake up in the morning.
In fact, to get the best possible sleep, studies show that it's best to avoid screens for at least two to three hours before bedtime. Instead, try to entertain yourself with other activities, like reading printed pages in a book or magazine instead.
35. Do Something Relaxing Before Trying to Sleep
You've probably noticed that if you're too active or stimulated around bedtime, you'll feel jittery and awake when it's time to go to sleep. Instead of packing your evening with activities right up until bedtime, try planning relaxing activities to help you wind down in the evening.
Taking a shower or bath is a great soothing activity to include in your bedtime routine, and it will leave you feeling fresh, clean, and relaxed. There are plenty of other ways to wind down in the evening, too, such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, or doing gentle stretching exercises.
36. Have a Consistent Bedtime Every Day
A consistent bedtime routine helps your body know when to relax and start winding down. If you want to fall asleep more easily and get better quality sleep, you need to train your body to expect it at the same time every day.
Try to get in the habit by setting a firm bedtime and using an alarm to wake up around the same time every day. This can be difficult to do on the weekends, but it's worth it.
If you vary your sleep schedule too much, even just for a couple days a week, you'll find that your sleep is less restful and you're more likely to feel tired during the day.
37. Use Your Bed ONLY for Sleeping (and Sex)
Often, getting better sleep involves tricking your brain into associating certain activities with sleep. That's why sleep specialists often recommend that you use the bed you sleep in only for sleeping and sex.
If you spend a lot of time reading, working, or watching TV in your bed, you should consider finding a different comfy spot to do those things. The goal is to make sure that the only time you spend in your bed is when you're trying to sleep so that your brain will make that association. That way, you'll start to feel sleepy as soon as you crawl under the sheets.
38. Use Up Your Energy During the Day
Sometimes people have difficulty sleeping because they don't get enough physical activity during the day. If you're not using up all your excess energy during your waking hours, you'll feel too alert and antsy to fall asleep when bedtime comes.
Everyone has experienced that wonderful feeling of drifting off into a heavy sleep after a full, active day. If you work out regularly and get enough physical activity, you'll get to experience that restful slumber every night and never worry about getting to sleep.
39. Avoid Stimulants and Caffeine
Caffeine can stay in your system and affect your sleep for up to 12 hours, so you should always be careful about when you drink caffeinated beverages. If you enjoy coffee, tea, or soda, make sure you switch to water or decaffeinated versions in the afternoon.
40. Save Worries for Another Time
Many people struggle with getting to sleep at night because of anxious thoughts rolling around in their head. If that's you, make sure you take the time to relax before bed and avoid any tasks that might spike your anxiety.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid any kind of stressful activities or conversations late in the evening. If you have thoughts or worries stuck in your head at bedtime, getting them out and writing them down in a notebook can help your brain let go.
The last thing you want to do is get in the habit of dwelling on tomorrow's worries and responsibilities while you lie in bed. The best thing for your health is to put them aside for another day and use that time to focus on sleep.
41. Practice Mindfulness Meditation to Clear Your Head
Sometimes it might feel like anxieties take over your head, and there's nothing you can do to shoo them out. Luckily, there's a simple and effective method for clearing your mind called mindfulness meditation that comes highly recommended by many doctors and mental health professionals.
Mindfulness meditation involves closing your eyes and paying attention to your thoughts in a quiet, mindful way. You quiet your mind by accepting each thought that comes and letting it go, never fighting or dwelling on any one thought.
It can feel strange or difficult at first, but meditation is a process that requires consistent practice to get right. Over time, you'll find it much easier to practice mindfulness and will be able to use it at-will to rid your brain of stress and anxiety before bed.
42. Don't Fill Your Stomach Before Bed
When you eat food, your digestive system immediately kicks up into high gear to break it down. This can make it difficult to relax and settle down before bed.
Try to plan your dinners in the early evening and avoid snacking at night. If you must eat something before bed, opt for something light like crackers and avoid anything with sugar or caffeine.
43. Make Your Room Cozy
The environment in the room where you sleep can have a huge effect on your ability to relax and fall asleep. This is especially true if it's too light or too hot.
Help yourself get cozy at night by creating a sleeping environment that's pleasant and comfortable. Remove any stressful clutter, put up pleasant decorations, and use a fan or space heater for finer temperature control.
If your bedroom gets too bright in the morning, it might be worth investing in some blackout curtains to block out the sun. Also, make sure to eliminate any extra light sources that might bother you at night, like alarm clocks with too-bright screens.
44. Treat Underlying Sleep Conditions
If you're having a lot of difficulty getting enough sleep and none of these other methods are working, it's probably time to see a sleep specialist. Many people live large portions of their lives unaware that they have a condition like sleep apnea that is hurting their quality of sleep.
Sleep apnea, a condition that makes it difficult to breathe while sleeping, is especially common among people with COPD. It affects an estimated 10-15% of people with the disease (known as “overlap syndrome”) and can make your COPD symptoms even worse.
If you have trouble feeling rested after a full night's sleep or find yourself waking often in the night, it could be a sign that you have sleep apnea. You will need to visit a sleep specialist and undergo testing to get diagnosed, and then your doctor will help you chose a device or mouth guard to help you get a better night's sleep.
45. Look Out for Medication Side Effects
If you're having difficulty sleeping and you're taking any medications, make sure to check with your doctor to see if any medicine you're taking could have side effects that hurt your sleep. If that turns out to be the cause, your doctor might be able to adjust your dosage, recommend a different medication, or provide you with other advice to help you get a better night's sleep.
46. Avoid Alcohol
Many people think a glass of wine in the evening will help them get to sleep, but it's actually more likely to cause problems than it is to help. Alcohol might help you feel sleepy in the short run, but it hurts your quality of sleep overall.
Drinking alcohol before bed makes you more likely to wake up throughout the night and have difficulty getting back to sleep in the morning. It also reduces the amount of REM sleep you get, and relaxes the muscles in your throat, making it more difficult to breathe.
47. Don't Let your Pets in Your Bed
While sleeping with your dog or cat might be cozy for awhile, studies show that it can take a real toll on your quality of sleep. Pets tend to get restless and move around a lot at night, which can wake you up or disturb your sleep even if you're not consciously aware of it.
With treats and encouragement, your pets will be just as happy to sleep on the floor in their own bed. It might take some time for you and your pet to adjust, but it will be well worth the extra rest and energy.
General Tips and Hacks to Simplify Your Daily Routine
48. Enlist Help
When you're dealing with a chronic disease like COPD, you will have to learn to ask for help. There will be times that your symptoms suddenly worsen, or you get too sick to handle your normal responsibilities.
When this happens, you need a good support network of family and friends to help take care of you and pick up the slack. Try to talk to the people who support you ahead of time, so they know what to expect and how they can help when you are struggling.
When you're experiencing an exacerbation or life simply becomes too much to handle, don't be afraid to call on the people who love and care about you for help. Most people would be happy to help you tidy up or run a couple errands on occasion when you aren't feeling well.
49. Take Time Today to Prep for Tomorrow
Facing a bunch of decisions first thing after you get up, like what clothes to wear or what to have for breakfast, is a sure-fire way to stress yourself out. That's why it's well worth it to set aside time every evening to set out your clothes, shoes, and medication for the next day
The more decisions you can get out of the way ahead of time, the better. That way you won't feel rushed or anxious in the morning when you're the most groggy and susceptible to stress.
50. Make a Schedule for Housework
Keeping up with housework can be very difficult, especially when you're managing a chronic disease like COPD. One thing that can help is working out a consistent, weekly schedule for handling chores around the house.
You can keep track of your daily household responsibilities like laundry, shopping, and cleaning in your calendar, planner, or smartphone. However you do it, organizing your responsibilities into a consistent schedule will allow you to better manage your time and never worry about falling behind without realizing it.
51. Wear Easy-to-Manage Clothing
Avoid wearing tight or complicated clothes and shoes that require you to bend and twist when pulling them on and off. Frequent bending over and contorting puts pressure on your diaphragm, which can exacerbate existing respiratory issues including COPD.
Constantly bending to fuss with tight shoes with laces is a source of physical discomfort for many people, and that's why many older adults and people with COPD find wearing simple slip-on shoes can make their daily routine much easier. They make it quicker and easier to leave the house and help you conserve energy throughout your day.
52. Plan Ahead for Meals and Grocery Trips
The best way to save time while still cooking healthy food is to plan all your meals for the week ahead of time. You can even cook whole meals ahead of time on the weekend, or cook extra-large meals so you can save leftovers in the freezer for another day.
Start by making a list of all the healthy meals you want to make for the week and make note of any supplies you need to pick up from the store. That way you won't have to waste your precious mental energy deciding what to eat every day and you'll always have the right ingredients you have on hand.
If you pre-chop some of the fresh ingredients you'll need and plan some make-ahead meals you can save even more time and energy during the week. For a huge selection of ideas and recipes for make-ahead meals that are “kitchen tested and family approved,” check out the blog Once a Month Meals. (https://onceamonthmeals.com/recipes/)
53. Cook Simple One-Dish or Make-Ahead Meals
Making healthy meals at home can quickly become a chore, especially if you're having to do tons of prep-work, cleaning, and dishes as a result. Luckily, there are lots of ways to make home cooking easier and less messy.
Casseroles and one-pan dishes are a great way to save money and reduce the amount of dishes you have to do after you finish. You won't have to worry about serving plates and utensils either; just eat right out of the main dish.
54. Use Carts and Trays to Make Clean-up Easier
Making multiple trips around the house or up and down the stairs isn't fun when you feel breathless and fatigued. But if you have a tray or cart handy, you can bring multiple items from one room to another or wheel all your dirty dishes to the kitchen all in one go.
You can keep a cart or carrying tray in your kitchen, living room, or wherever you're likely to be carrying multiple items at once. You'll be amazed at how much quicker and simpler it makes picking up and moving things around the house.
55. Streamline Your Dish Washing
Loading and unloading the dishwasher is another activity that takes a lot of bending over and reaching, which can be very uncomfortable and increase breathlessness for someone who has COPD. To reduce the amount of bending and contorting you have to do, utilize a short chair or step stool and a rolling cart.
When loading your dishes up into the washer, separate them into two separate stacks, one for the bottom rack and one for the top. To load the bottom rack much easier, load the dishes up onto your cart and take a seat on a chair or step stool that allows you to easily reach the bottom rack.
Then you can simply load your dishes, one by one, from the cart into your dishwasher from your position on the stool. Use the same method for unloading your dishwasher, and you should be able to complete the task much more comfortably and minimize how much bending over you have to do.
56. Use Stools and Step Ladders
If your energy is limited and your breathing restricted, you don't want to spend a lot of time bending over or straining as you go about your daily tasks. Instead, use stools or step ladders to make difficult tasks easier.
A small step ladder can help you retrieve hard-to-reach items in your cabinets and closets without having to climb or over-exert yourself. It can also be useful to keep tall stool or two around the house for tasks that require you to stand for lengths of time. Instead of standing at the counter prepping meals or doing dishes, you can save your energy by perching comfortably on your stool.
57. Shower Easier
For someone with COPD, showering can be a very taxing activity. Many people struggle with breathlessness from the humidity and constant standing and bending over.
If this is something you struggle with, consider investing in some new shower equipment to make your routine easier. Many people with COPD find that a shower chair can really help because it allows you to rest whenever you feel short of breath.
You should also consider getting a removable shower head; it makes rinsing off much easier, whether you are sitting or standing. It also makes the chore of scrubbing and rinsing out your shower much simpler, since you can swivel and aim the shower head in any direction.
58. Do Laundry With Less Effort
Laundry is an ongoing chore that often requires a lot of bending over and multiple trips from one room to another. This can be burdensome for someone with COPD, but there are ways to simplify and streamline the process.
Instead of bending and lifting heavy baskets and carrying them back and forth from your laundry room, invest in a rolling laundry cart to make it a nearly effortless task. If you have the opportunity to get a new dryer, consider a top-loading variety, which allows you to load and unload it with less bending and kneeling.
59. Use Motor Assistance Devices Where Available
If you have difficulty standing or walking for extended periods of time without breathlessness and fatigue, even simple chores like going to the grocery store can seem daunting. But don't forget that many stores, including grocery stores, department stores, and malls, have motorized scooters available for anyone who has limited mobility.
If you have COPD, you might only need to use motorized assistance on days when your symptoms are particularly bad, but you might find that using them whenever you can makes running errands and venturing outside your home much more manageable. Whatever the case, don't let your disease keep you from living your life and getting out of the house, and certainly don't be afraid to give motorized scooters a try.
60. Shop for Groceries Online
Grocery shopping can be dreadful and exhausting for someone with COPD whose energy, breath, and mobility is limited. While you can always use a motorized scooter to help you around the store, other tasks can sap your energy, such as lifting heavy objects, loading up your car, and carrying bags into the house.
Luckily, many grocery stores now have online services that allow you to order your groceries online and have them delivered straight to your doorstep! Some have small delivery fees, but it can be well worth it to never have to go through the long process of grocery shopping ever again.
And if you don't want to pay delivery fees, many stores will let you do curbside pickup. You simply give the store your order and employees with gather all your groceries for you and load them into your car when you come to pick them up.
If your local grocery store doesn't offer online ordering and delivery, you will likely be able to find a third-party service that will pick up your items from your favorite grocery store for you. Another alternative is Amazon.com, which has a huge selection of grocery items that are often even cheaper than the prices you find in stores.
Life can be unpredictable when you have COPD. You can't predict when you might get sick or have another exacerbation, and your symptoms can vary from day to day.
It takes consistent, healthy habits and good deal of planning to stay on top of your symptoms and treatment plan. That's why it's especially important for COPD patients to think ahead and have routines and plans in place to fall back on when things get tough.
Don't wait until you are stressed out and burnt out before examining your schedule and making a change. Use the tips and hacks in this article to reduce daily stress, save time, streamline your daily activities, and make living with COPD less burdensome.
Making the health and lifestyle changes you need to live comfortably with COPD can be a difficult and daunting challenge. But if you have the right attitude and a smart routine you'll find that keeping up with your health and treatment goals doesn't have to disrupt your life.
These methods will not only pay off in your immediate, daily life, but in the long run, too. By taking the time to build your knowledge and practice the best techniques for managing COPD, you'll have better long-term health and a tool belt full of important life skills to help you confidently and effectively navigate life with your disease.