COPD and Motivation: How to Stop Struggling and Start Thriving
Life is filled with unpredictability. Whether it’s a change to our daily routine or a life-changing event like a COPD diagnosis, staying on our toes is often the best way to maintain stability in our lives. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to deal with these changes. Sometimes, it can feel like you’re trying to play keep up rather than dealing with problems quickly and effectively as soon as they arise.
What this all boils down to is a matter of motivation. Either you have the motivation to take charge of your life and thrive with the hand you’ve been dealt, or you lack the motivation you need and end up feeling stressed, lost, and unable to deal with life’s challenges effectively. Oftentimes, when someone is diagnosed with a chronic illness, they find themselves in a rut where they are unable to find the motivation to manage their disease effectively.
If you want to get to the point where you’re controlling your disease rather than your disease controlling you, it’s imperative that you start with square one. Instead of viewing your disease as a whole with all its complexities, you should break it down into more manageable parts that are easier to work with. In this post, we’ll take a look at the steps you need to take to go from struggling with COPD to thriving with COPD.
Understand That COPD is Not the End
According to mindful.org, positive thoughts not only affect how we feel, but they also affect our behaviors. When someone faces a life-changing scenario like a COPD diagnosis, they often feel shame, fear, or disappointment; all of which will shape the way we cope with this newfound information. Someone who is able to conquer these thoughts quickly and return to a normal, stable mindset will be successful in managing their disease. However, someone who is not able to overcome these negative thoughts will find it increasingly difficult to cope with the challenges of managing a chronic lung disease.
What ends up happening is that many people who have just been diagnosed with COPD automatically place themselves in the same group as someone with heart disease, lung cancer, or some other serious life-threatening illness. This is a mistake because COPD progresses much more slowly than the vast majority of chronic illnesses. In fact, many people around the world have been able to nearly bring the progression of COPD down to a halt by adhering to a strict treatment regime.
The key to turning these negative thoughts around is understanding that COPD is a very treatable illness and any commitment you make to a new lifestyle will not be in vain. In comparison to lung cancer and other chronic respiratory diseases, COPD is much more predictable in its pathogenesis meaning that following the treatment plan created by your doctor will yield tangible results that you can use to further motivate you.
According to MedicineNet, the five-year life expectancy for someone with COPD is 40% to 70%. In other words, 40 to 70 out of every 100 COPD patients live beyond five years. Keep in mind that about 40 percent of all COPD patients continue smoking after their diagnosis. What this means is that immediate smoking cessation will significantly improve your odds of living beyond five years, and implementing other healthy routines will extend it far beyond that. Many COPD patients have been able to live happy and healthy lives for 20 to 30 years after their diagnosis.
Make Smoking Cessation a Priority
Not only is smoking the leading cause of COPD and COPD progression, but it’s also the cause of many of the emotional difficulties of coping with COPD. According to Bridgestone Recovery, the mental health effects of smoking may be among the most dangerous. 48% of women and 40% of men with severe depression are found to be smokers as opposed to 17% and 25% of women and men who are non-depressed. While smoking leads to temporary feelings of satisfaction and pleasure, the symptoms of withdrawal that you experience far outweigh the benefits.
Simply put, not only is smoking the main factor contributing to the progression of your disease, but it’s also the main factor preventing you from feeling better and living longer. By ending your dependency on cigarettes, you will not only feel better, but you will be more mentally and emotionally available to take on other challenging aspects of COPD management such as exercise, diet, and medication.
Smoking cessation is by no means “easy.” Whether you’ve been smoking for several years or your whole life, the effects of smoking are the same. Nicotine, a chemical found in cigarettes, leads to the release of dopamine in the brain. This is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in our feelings of pleasure and reward. When you’re smoking a cigarette, dopamine levels are high. However, when you quit, your dopamine levels are low, causing you to experience a withdrawal. Studies show that nicotine addiction can occur within a few days of starting to smoke.
Another reason to start with smoking cessation is the financial burden of cigarettes. Due to market changes and tax increases, cigarettes are not the cheap product that they used to be. According to Very Well, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $6.28. If you smoke a pack a day, that’s $2,292 Alternatively, you could save that money and instead use it to buy a portable oxygen concentrator which will provide you with portable, easily accessible oxygen for the rest of your life.
Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
The world is currently undergoing a mental health paradox. Mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression are more prevalent than several decades ago, yet people are less likely to seek help for their problems. In our modern age, people are constantly bombarded with information through the internet, social media, or in-person with little time to focus on their own mental health. Due to the negative stigma of seeking help for these problems, many people are left with no outlet to express their frustrations. This can make it night impossible for someone to quit smoking.
The objective of cognitive behavioral therapy is to take a behavior that is perceived as “wrong” and correct it to help you better achieve your goals. For COPD patients, this could mean correcting thoughts or behaviors that reinforce your dependence on cigarettes or other bad behaviors that contribute to the progression of COPD. At the end of the day, correcting your thoughts and behaviors will lead to more motivation because it will make you realize that you are capable of managing your disease on your own.
According to Medical News Today, CBT is a form of short-term therapy that often lasts around 20 sessions. They can be one-on-one courses or group therapy situations, but the latter is more common since this type of therapy is very goal-oriented and focused on the individual. After completing CBT, patients walk away with a greater understanding of their problems, what’s causing them, and how to fix them. Most importantly, however, people learn how to be more self-sufficient and avoid giving into thoughts or behaviors that could lead to smoking relapse.
Make a List of Things That are Important to You
Lists are great for a lot of things, but they’re especially helpful if you want to keep track of things that are important to you. Far too many people take the time to implement goals in their life, but by the time they start pursuing them, they’ve forgotten why they’re doing it. Or they simply lose motivation because they lose sight of what’s actually important to them. If you’re trying to quit smoking, for example, take some time to write down 10 or more reasons why it will benefit you. Here are a few of the things you can write down:
- I will save over $2,000 each year without cigarettes
- I will improve my symptoms including anxiety, stress, and depression
- I will slow the progression of inflammation in my lungs
- I will reduce my risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many other life-threatening illnesses
- I will be more socially accepted by my friends and loved ones
- I will have taken the first step toward treating my COPD
- I will be able to help others dealing with cigarette addiction more effectively
These are just a few of the things you can list. Feel free to add to this list if you can think of more important reasons to quit. Once you have written these down, make copies and post them around your house to help motivate you. If you find success in this method, be sure to do the same for any other lifestyle change you want to make such as improving your diet, exercise routine, and more.
Recruit Others to Hold You Accountable
Generally speaking, people are more successful at accomplishing their goals when they’re held accountable by friends and family. When you’re on your own, it becomes very difficult to pinpoint where you’re going wrong and how you can improve. However, if you have an outside observer looking in, your potential flaws will be more obvious. This is similar to how you have someone proofread your writing for structural and grammatical accuracy.
The bottom line when it comes to having others hold you accountable is that you need to make sure they are being honest and aren’t just telling you what you want to hear. Far too often, family, friends, or caretakers will reinforce negative habits; not because they don’t care about them, but because they want to avoid uncomfortable interactions that could compromise the relationship.
If you want to do something like quit smoking, exercise more, or improve your diet, start by being open and honest with friends and loved ones about what you’re trying to accomplish. The more aware they are of your goals, the more easily they will be able to hold you accountable and remind you of your goals when you begin to fall back on them. In some cases, you may not even realize that you’re falling back on them.
Upgrade to a Portable Oxygen Concentrator
One thing that’s virtually guaranteed if you’re a COPD patient is that you will be on supplemental oxygen therapy. Since COPD patients have impaired lung function, oxygen therapy assists them by saturating the lungs with medical-grade oxygen, thus increasing blood oxygen levels. When your blood oxygen levels are normal, every organ in your body will receive more oxygen meaning you’ll be healthier and feel happier.
One of the biggest problems with oxygen therapy, however, is that it can be a major inconvenience. Oxygen tanks are very heavy, they take up a lot of room, and they can even be hazardous. If that’s not bad enough, they also need to be refilled after several hours of use either with a homefill oxygen station or with the help of a local oxygen provider. In other words, oxygen tanks keep you bound to your home with very little freedom. What’s more, oxygen tanks are banned on flights, so you won’t be able to travel long distances with the ease that you could previously.
It’s not all bad news, though! Luckily, modern technology is making it easier every day for oxygen patients to get the therapy they need without being stuck at home or put their safety at risk. Portable oxygen concentrators are currently the most advanced oxygen machines on the market. They are powered by electricity meaning they never need to be refilled and you’ll be able to charge them in any wall or car outlet anywhere in the world. Portable oxygen concentrators are also approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) meaning you’ll be able to take them on any commercial flight within the United States.
Portable oxygen concentrators have been the industry standard for supplemental oxygen since the early 2000s, so there are a whole host of options to choose from. One thing to note, however, is that portable oxygen concentrators have a maximum oxygen output, so you’ll need to ensure that a POC meets your oxygen needs before purchasing it. You’ll also want to look into the weight, battery life, and other factors to determine whether the oxygen machine will meet your lifestyle needs or not.
If you’ve never purchased a portable oxygen concentrator before, you should start by looking at the Caire FreeStyle Comfort and the Inogen One G5. The FreeStyle Comfort is one of the latest POCs to release and it’s widely considered to be one of the best. Its maximum oxygen output is 1,050 ml/min, so it offers enough oxygen for the vast majority of COPD patients. It offers up to 16 hours of battery life on one charge, meaning you’ll be able to stay out all day without having to worry. Lastly, it weighs in at only 5 pounds making it light enough to carry on your shoulder without it causing any pain or discomfort.
The Inogen One G5 came out last year, so it’s a little bit older than the FreeStyle Comfort, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. The differences between this device and the FreeStyle Comfort are minimal, so the one you choose to purchase will ultimately come down to your preferences. The Inogen One G5 offers a maximum oxygen output of 1,260 ml/min, so it provides a little more flexibility than its competitor. It’s also slightly lighter, weighing in at only 4.7 pounds. The Inogen One G5 provides oxygen users with 13 hours of battery life on one charge, 3 hours less than the FreeStyle Comfort.
Although these are two of the best portable oxygen concentrators on the market, it’s imperative that you understand what your needs are first. Get in touch with your pulmonologist and ask him/her how much oxygen you need and how many hours a day you need to be on oxygen. Once you do so, reach out to our respiratory specialists here at LPT Medical and we will align you with the oxygen concentrator that best meets your needs and lifestyle.
Motivation is paramount when it comes to managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Whether you are in stage one COPD or end-stage COPD, staying motivated will ensure that you always have the energy to keep up with your treatment plan and make healthy choices. Also, generally speaking, you will be happier and more satisfied with your life when you feel motivated to pursue goals that are important to you.
While there is certainly no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to increasing motivation, there are several problems COPD patients (and people with other chronic conditions) face that can lead to a loss of motivation. In this post, we highlighted just a few of the things you can do to improve your state of mind and get back on track towards achieving your health goals. As always, if you have a question or concern, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.