With the New Year just around the corner, there is no better time than the present to think about the changes you can make in your life to improve your health. And, because COPD symptoms can be so debilitating and have such a direct impact on your life, what better resolution than to take measures in 2011 to improve them?
If you think about the lifestyle changes you are willing to make, why not start each month in 2011 with a new goal? Here are 12 ideas for each month of the New Year:
- Quit smoking - Most of us know that the health hazards of tobacco smoke are startling, but, did you know that smoking cessation is the best way to actually slow the progression of your disease? And, the benefits of quitting begin almost immediately after you put our your last cigarette.
- Get more exercise - A daily exercise routine is essential for long-term maintenance of the disease, as it increases your self-esteem, helps you regain a sense of control over your life and improves your overall quality of life. But wait! There's more: Regular exersise also helps your body utilize oxygen more efficiently, improves your endurance, and helps you breathe better.
- Eat a healthy diet - The old adage, you are what you eat, rings true with COPD and a diet rich in foods containing vitamins D, C, E, A and B has been shown to improve lung function in COPD.
- Learn to play the harmonica - New research suggests that playing the harmonica on a regular basis can help COPD patients breathe better. Don't have the money to buy a harmonica? Try singing! It has similar effects on the lungs.
- Practice daily meditation - Meditation reduces the effects of chronic stress that the disease places on your body and allows you to utilize oxygen more efficiently, a plus for those with COPD.
- Learn a new breathing technique - Not only do breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing help strengthen your diaphragm and other muscles necessary for breathing, they help reduce dyspnea, as well.
- Join a COPD Support Group - If you need to vent, ask questions about your disease, or just find a new friend, the COPD Forum is the place to do it.
- Better manage your medications - Medication mishaps can be deadly, that's why learning medication safety tips is essential for anyone with a chronic illness.
- Participate in a clinical trial - Have you exhausted your options with your current COPD treatment program? Why not participate in a COPD clinical trial?
- Hire a caregiver to help you cope - No one can do it alone! A COPD caregiver can help relieve some of the burden that the disease places upon your life and the lives of those you love.
- Plant a healing garden - A healing garden can be a remarkably soothing, therapeutic experience for patients suffering from COPD, or any other chronic illness.
- Adopt a pet - Pet therapy is becoming increasingly more popular in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and hospices. The right pet can help reduce stress and loneliness, decrease depression and give someone who is sick a reason to hang on.
Lifestyle changes are meant to do just that -- change your life. The rewards of making even one of the lifestyle changes mentioned above are tremendous. Getting started is the hardest part. If you are not sure you're ready to change your life and improve your COPD symptoms, try the following quiz brought to you by About.com's Exercise Guide:
What lifestyle changes will you make this year? Share your 2011 New Year's resolutions below.