When you think about your daily routine, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of making your bed, taking a shower, or making a cup of coffee. These are all things that most people do sequentially and sometimes even subconsciously. But have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to do these things regularly, but something like implementing a new diet or exercise routine can feel near impossible to achieve?
As COPD patients, we’re faced with a difficult decision: either ignore our treatment plan and maintain the unpredictability of life or live life by the books, following every rule that our doctor tells us. However, with some hard work and determination, it’s possible to accomplish both of these tasks without having to stress about whether you’re making the right decisions.
If you’re a COPD patient who has trouble making and sticking to a routine, read on because we’re going to take a deep dive into some of the biggest roadblocks preventing COPD patients from living a healthy and happy life. As always, if you’re planning on making any major changes to your treatment plan, be sure to speak with your doctor first.
Why Are Routines So Important?
A routine is something that you do habitually. In other words, it’s something you do without giving much of a second thought to. These can either be good things like going to bed at the same time each night; or bad things like smoking cigarettes after lunch. But the one thing they have in common is that they both feel natural in your day-to-day life. Without having these routines, we might feel a lack of structure or direction in our lives.
Another problem with having no routine is that it can be mentally and physically exhausting to accomplish goals. For example, if you’re constantly having to fight yourself to eat the right foods or take your medication on time, you might get behind on them and get discouraged. Each time this happens, you’re getting farther and farther away from accomplishing your goal.
But one of the most common misconceptions about good habits is that just because something works for one person does not necessarily mean it will work for another. This is why it’s important to start with a broad overview, then narrow down something that will work for you.
Make Sure You Understand Your Long-Term Goals
Generally speaking, bad habits are the result of a narrow-minded approach to your health. For example, if you take a smoke break in the middle of the day you’re only taking into consideration how you’re feeling at that moment. You might feel stressed or antsy early in the day, but after smoking, you feel satisfied and complete. However, in reality, smoking actually increases stress, because, after an initial release of dopamine in the brain, you’ll begin to experience withdrawals which make you feel even worse than before.
Whether you’re struggling with bad habits involving smoking, your diet, exercise, or anything else, the best place to start is by shifting your focus to long-term thinking. Rather than creating habits that satisfy your immediate desires, you should be creating habits that reinforce what you’re trying to accomplish in life. This is an important step because the more clearly you define what you’re trying to do, the more obvious it will be if you start falling back on your goals.
Eliminate Any Distractions
Distractions are so commonplace in the modern world. If you own a phone, tablet, computer, or any other electronic device, you’re probably well aware of how easy it is to spend hours on these devices without even acknowledging what’s going on in the real world. According to Kommando Tech, people check their phones an average of 58 times a day. Even if you’re looking at your device for a fraction of a second to check or reply to a message, you’re still taking your mind off of whatever you were doing. Over time, this could become a significant roadblock preventing you from implementing healthy habits.
Electronics are not the only distractions in our lives, however. If you take some time to think about the distractions in your life, you’ll likely come up with a good list of things. For many people, a dirty or cluttered home can be a distraction. According to Men’s Health, a messy home can contribute to anxiety, affect your quality of sleep, and contribute to avoidance strategies that make us less productive. These are just a few of the distractions that could be present in your life. Be sure to take some time to sort these out before you move on.
Make Reminders Around Your Home
Chances are, you have that one friend who likes to create reminders for everything, even for things that don’t seem important. From an outside perspective, this can be a little overbearing; but if you’re the one setting the reminders, it might make more sense to you. Reminders are a great way to force yourself to stick to a routine, at least until you’re able to do it without them. Some people prefer to make physical reminders on a notepad or sticky note, but others prefer to use digital reminders on their phone or computer. Better yet, you could try a combination of the two.
Physical reminders are great if you want to keep yourself on track throughout the day. For example, you could place sticky notes on the door reminding you to take your medication before leaving the house or you could put sticky notes on your fridge to remind you what foods to avoid. Setting reminders on your phone can also be useful if you want to remind yourself of doctor’s appointments or when to exercise. The type of reminders you need will depend entirely on what habits you struggle with keeping, but generally speaking, they’re a great way to keep you on track.
Find Ways to Make Your Routine Easier
Most people prefer to find the path of least resistance when it comes to accomplishing their goals. There’s no point in adding any unnecessary struggle, especially if your health is at risk. So, it goes without saying that any little thing you can do to make your health routine easier to follow will be very beneficial in the long run. One of the best things you can do to simplify your COPD treatment plan is to invest in a portable oxygen concentrator.
A portable oxygen concentrator is an electric oxygen generator used to replace old, outdated types of oxygen equipment like oxygen tanks and liquid oxygen tanks. They work by drawing in ambient air that you would normally breathe and then removing gases like nitrogen, argon, and more. The device then puts out medical-grade oxygen through the nasal cannula. You’ll receive the exact same amount of oxygen with a portable oxygen concentrator, but the device is much easier to manage.
First and foremost, portable oxygen generators are much lighter than oxygen tanks. A pulse dose concentrator like the Inogen One G5 is under 5 pounds making it very easy to carry on your shoulder or back. Oxygen tanks, however, tend to be much heavier at around 10 to 15 pounds. As a result, you’ll need to wheel your oxygen tank around using a carrying cart. This is especially inconvenient if you need to go up a flight of stairs or some other obstacle.
Another problem with oxygen thanks is that they are very bulky and oblong. So when it comes to storing one, you’ll have a difficult time. Since they’re highly pressurized and contain medical oxygen, they can be very dangerous. Oxygen tanks can be stored at 2,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) or more which makes them a hazard to keep around the house. Portable oxygen generators don’t have any compressed oxygen inside the unit so they don’t have this problem.
Finally, portable oxygen concentrators are simply put, much easier, and convenient to use. Oxygen tanks need to be refilled by a professional when they run out of oxygen, but POCs just need to be recharged. Since the batteries are so light, you can carry plenty of backup batteries with you wherever you go and you’ll never run out of oxygen. You can even use your POC while it’s plugged into the wall charging.
The reason POCs make your COPD routine easier is that they are mostly out of sight and out of mind. Rather than having to worry about whether or not you’re getting enough oxygen wherever you go, POCs provide you with a consistent and reliable source of oxygen that won’t fail when you need it the most. COPD patients who use concentrators find that they spend less time thinking about their disease and more time living their lives.
Don’t Get Thrown Off by a Change of Plans
It’s happened to all of us… we’re doing a great job of maintaining good habits and working towards our goals. Then, all of a sudden, something happens that causes us to get off course. Life isn’t always going to be predictable, so we need to be prepared when our plans change and we aren’t able to follow through with our normal routine.
It’s important that you have the freedom to attend family events and visit friends whenever you want. But at the same time, you need to have a plan to stay on track towards meeting your goals even with all of life’s surprises. One way to do this is to simply notify your friends and family about your routine so that they can help you stay on track.
Get Plenty of Sleep
One of the most important factors that will help you maintain a routine is alertness. Studies have found that COPD patients are significantly more likely than the general public to experience sleep disruptions that can lead to daytime sleepiness and even contribute to COPD flare-ups like breathlessness, chest pain, and fatigue. It’s important to fix these underlying issues if you want to have the energy to follow through with your routine. Try some of the following tips to improve sleep with COPD:
- Changing your sleeping position can take some stress off your lungs and promote more restful sleep. The Lung Institute recommends sleeping on your side with your head slightly propped up to improve breathing.
- Avoid taking naps during the day. A consistent nighttime sleeping pattern will keep you more alert and prevent daytime drowsiness.
- Avoid using electronics right before bed. Staring at a screen as you’re winding down for the night can mess with your body’s circadian rhythm.
- Exercise more consistently. Moderate exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep you get. In other words, you get more “deep sleep” where your body and mind are able to rejuvenate.
- Get tested for a sleep disorder. COPD-OSA overlap syndrome is a common cause of sleep disruptions. Treating obstructive sleep apnea will be the best way to experience better sleep at night.
- Speak to your doctor about your medication. Certain COPD medications may contribute or outright cause sleep problems.
Speak With Your Doctor
Ultimately, your doctor will be your greatest resource if you’re having trouble following your treatment plan. He/she may have some helpful tips to keep you on track, or your doctor may be able to alter your treatment regime completely in order to make it easier to follow. Another thing that your doctor can do is refer you to a mental health specialist who can help you cope with the mental and emotional aspects of dealing with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most trusted forms of therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that aims to change the way that you think and act. It’s designed to target negative or inaccurate thinking patterns that can lead to you developing bad habits. CBT is a type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that usually involves a one-on-one conversation with a mental health counselor. Most commonly, CBT is used to treat mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or eating disorders, but it can be used by anyone to help people cope with difficult situations like living with COPD. Below are the steps involved in a CBT session:
Identifying the problem: Before you can solve the problem you need to know what’s causing it. Your first session of CBT will likely be focused on targeting troubling situations or conditions in your life. This could be things like COPD symptoms, or a troubling experience involving a flare-up or exacerbation.
Becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings about these events: Next, it’s important for you and your therapist to understand exactly how you’re reacting to these problems. You may be asked to keep a daily journal where you write down your change of emotions throughout the day.
Understanding negative or inaccurate thinking: Destructive thoughts are usually the result of an inaccurate interpretation of an event. This step will help you identify these thoughts so that they can be reversed.
Reinforcing positive thinking patterns: Finally, you and your therapist will working on reinforcing constructive thoughts throughout your daily life. This could take several weeks or several months depending on how receptive you are to the changes.
At the end of the day, it’s much easier to give in to bad habits than to reinforce good habits, especially if you suffer from a chronic illness like COPD. Being diagnosed with COPD means having to take on new responsibilities and pay closer attention to how your daily routine affects your long-term health. This can feel overwhelming at times, but if you break it down and understand how habits develop in the first place, it will be much more manageable.
In this post, we showed you just a few of the things you can do to maintain healthy habits with COPD. However, as we mentioned, everyone is different and what might work for one person may not work for another. If you’re still struggling with managing COPD symptoms, be sure to stick to our blog. We try to provide respiratory patients with a unique perspective on their disease as well as providing tips that you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re looking for a portable oxygen concentrator for sale in Denver, don’t hesitate to reach out to our respiratory specialists here at LPT Medical. Since most COPD patients need 24/7 supplemental oxygen, it’s our goal to ensure they are able to do this comfortably and without affecting their daily routine. Call us at 1-800-946-1201 today to speak with a respiratory specialist.