We’ve all experienced what it’s like to be burnt out on something. Whether it’s your job, chores, or health routine, it’s not always easy to find a way to stay on track to meet your goals. What complicates this even further is that everyone experiences this for a different reason. For some people, it’s just a matter of learning how to stick to a routine, but for others, it could be a lack of mental or physical energy that’s holding them back.
Oftentimes, when people are trying to stick to a COPD treatment plan, the latter is true. After all, fatigue is the second most common symptom of COPD with about 50% of patients experiencing it. Knowing this information, it’s not hard to see why it can be difficult to stick to a routine. If you’re hit with a sudden wave of fatigue, grogginess, or breathlessness, it can make simple tasks seem overwhelming. Eventually, your health goals will seem unattainable and unrealistic.
In this post, we’re going to provide you with some tips for having a fresh perspective on your COPD treatment plan. Regardless of the stage of COPD that you’re in, it’s never too early or too late to hit the reset button and start managing your COPD symptoms proactively. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below and we’ll get back to you.
Change Up Your Exercise Routine
As a COPD patient, you know how important your exercise routine is. While exercise does not magically reverse the effects of lung damage, it improves the efficiency of your body and lungs which inevitably leads to less breathlessness, less chronic pain, and a longer life expectancy. But you know as well as anyone that exercise routines are difficult to stick to, especially if you viewed it as a “chore” in the first place.
More often than not, COPD patients are taught how to exercise through a pulmonary rehabilitation program. These programs are aimed at educating patients about their lungs and disease, then applying exercise techniques that allow them to lead a happier life. Unfortunately, pulmonary rehabilitation programs don’t teach you how to make your exercise routine “interesting” or “engaging.” They simply tell you what needs to be done. As a result, many people find themselves in a situation a year or two down the road where they don’t have the motivation to continue.
At some point, you’re going to want to try new exercises that hold your interest. The important thing to remember is that you still need to follow the guidelines that you learned in pulmonary rehabilitation because this will ensure that you are making the most of your time and avoid injury. For example, if you implement a new exercise, you need to make sure it works the same muscle group and that it’s a similar intensity as your original exercise. If you have any doubts about it, you can always reach out to your doctor with any questions you may have.
Make Adjustments to Your Diet
What you eat also has a major impact on your ability to live a comfortable life with COPD. Unfortunately, your diet is also something that can become mundane if you’re eating the same things every day. Like with exercising, it’s okay to make changes to your diet, you just need to make sure that you’re getting the right nutrients. You also need to ensure that you aren’t increasing or decreasing your caloric intake too much. According to the COPD Foundation, breathing with COPD takes more energy than for a healthy individual, so you need to maintain your caloric intake.
Most COPD patients need a high protein intake. Protein plays an essential role in the structure, function, and regulation of body tissues. Most notably, protein helps you build muscle and counteract muscle atrophy which is common in COPD patients. Maintaining muscle mass is important for respiratory patients because strong muscles take less oxygen to function, thus reducing the burden on your lungs. While you probably get most of your protein through meat, there are many other great sources of protein, including but not limited to fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and beans.
You might think of fats as being “unhealthy.” But you may be surprised to find that many COPD patients are prescribed high-fat diets. The problem is that many people don’t know the difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats like saturated fat or trans fat include things like beef or pork fat, margarine, butter, and shortening. Eating too many of these things can lead to increased blood cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol levels. Healthy fats, on the other hand, like monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats include avocados, olives, nuts, olive oil, and more. Fatty fish like salmon is also a great source of healthy fats like omega-3.
While it may seem like COPD diets are pretty restricted, this is not necessarily the case. It’s important to avoid foods that are high in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. However, aside from that, you simply need to meet your minimum caloric intake for the day and any other requirements that your doctor sets. You still have plenty of freedom to choose what you eat and switching up your meals can even keep you on track for meeting your goals by preventing burnout.
Upgrade to a Portable Oxygen Concentrator
After being prescribed oxygen, many people choose the first oxygen device they think of — oxygen tanks. Most people know about oxygen tanks and they’ve seen people use them. But that doesn’t mean they’re the best option for you and your lifestyle. Although oxygen tanks are a popular choice, they tend to be heavy and bulky meaning they are difficult to maneuver. Fortunately, there is an alternative known as portable oxygen concentrators.
A portable oxygen concentrator is unlike an oxygen tank in that it doesn’t hold oxygen within the unit. Rather, it takes in ambient air, removes nitrogen and argon, and puts out medical-grade oxygen. POCs are electronic devices and they run off of powerful lithium-ion batteries, so you simply need to charge the battery via a car or wall outlet and you’ll be on your way. The most notable benefit of this is that you won’t have to keep going out of your way to refill or replace your oxygen tanks when they run out.
Another benefit of portable oxygen concentrators is their lightweight and compact design. Unlike oxygen tanks which are oblong-shaped, POCs are small enough and light enough to be carried on your shoulder. This opens up a world of possibilities and enables you the freedom to live life on your own terms without being defined by your disease. Inevitably, this leads to more options for you and a lower chance of experiencing burnout with your COPD treatment plan.
Reduce the Clutter
Sometimes it’s not our COPD treatment plan itself that’s causing us to feel burnt out, but all the extra clutter around us. The term “clutter” can be defined as anything that complicates our lives and occupies our thoughts but doesn’t provide any real benefit to us. If you live with clutter too long it can really start to become exhausting and you’ll notice yourself losing motivation in other areas of life such as your exercise routine, diet, and making it to doctor’s visits.
For some people, this might imply clutter within the home. For example, having a messy bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen can lead to a lot of discomfort in your daily life, and as a result, you might find yourself too distracted to follow your COPD treatment plan. Eliminating physical clutter like this is as simple as taking the time each day to organize your home and avoid getting to the point where it’s too much to manage. If you’re too busy to clean, you might consider hiring a caretaker who can help out around the home.
Another type of clutter is “mental clutter.” Think of this as the opposite of mental clarity. Instead of being able to concentrate on what you’re doing in the current moment, your thoughts are always wandering to something else. Mental clutter can certainly be caused by things like a messy home, but it’s more likely to be caused by something that takes your focus off of what you’re doing in the present moment. For example, watching the news for too long or spending too much time on social media are both things that can take your focus off the present moment.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one way of dealing with problems related to mental clarity. This is a type of therapy that’s focused on reversing negative or unproductive thought processes. CBT has become very common among people with chronic conditions like COPD as awareness around mental health problems has increased. During CBT, you will work one-on-one with a certified therapist who will guide you through the process.
Meditation comes in many different forms. However, in most cases, the goal is always to achieve a state of mental clarity and well-being. Meditation helps train your mind to think clearly and without distractions. It also promotes emotional well-being while reducing anxiety and in some cases even improving physical well-being. By far the most popular form of meditation for COPD patients is Tai Chi. This practice combines traditional meditation principles with martial arts. It’s popular for COPD patients because it teaches you to control your thoughts, breathing, and balance, all of which are important if you’re trying to improve your health. Read through this post we made about Tai Chi to learn more.
Speak With Your Doctor
Your doctor should be your first point of contact when it comes to anything related to your COPD treatment plan. If you know that you need to make changes, your doctor will be able to tell you what changes are acceptable and which are not. He/she may also be able to provide you with additional resources or direct you to another specialist who can help you deal with issues related to COPD burnout and fatigue. Sometimes burnout is due to poor sleep quality, so he/she may recommend that you get tested for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and other sleep disorders.
Another change your doctor may be able to do is make changes to your medication routine. Corticosteroids are one of the most common drugs used to treat COPD because they reduce inflammation in the lungs. However, these drugs are also known to have adverse psychiatric effects such as mania, depression, and cognitive impairments, all of which can contribute to burnout and a negative outlook of your disease. Your doctor may be able to reduce your dosage or prescribe you a different medication altogether.
Being “burnt out” on your COPD routine can be exhausting. On one hand, you may be tempted to revert to your old way of living and entirely forget about your COPD treatment plan. However, on the other hand, you understand that the best way to deal with the symptoms of your disease is through persistence and consistency. If you feel like you’ve reached this point, be sure to try some of the tips above to get back on track.
Ultimately, you will want to consult your doctor if you’re struggling to keep up with your treatment plan. It’s not unusual for someone to struggle, especially if they’ve had COPD for many years. Here at LPT Medical, we strongly believe that a portable oxygen concentrator can help you regain much of the freedom that you lost after being diagnosed with COPD. As a result, you’ll be able to approach your treatment plan from more angles and prevent burnout.
We sell some of the top-rated portable oxygen concentrators in the industry such as the Caire FreeStyle Comfort, Inogen One G5, and the GCE Zen-O Lite. When you contact one of our oxygen concentrator specialists, they will work with you one-on-one to understand your needs and align you with a concentrator that matches them. We also have many different buying and financing options to help you manage payments in a way that works with your budget. To get started, simply give us a call or send us an email.