LIVING with a lung condition may have felt more challenging than ever in 2020 but with the calendar year finally clicking over, now is the ideal time to reset with a positive outlook for 2021. While setting goals in the new year seems a time-honoured tradition, it pays to be realistic and strategic when you map out a plan. Staying upbeat is not always easy when everyday tasks can leave you feeling short of breath, but even small steps can have big impacts on your health and wellbeing. Simple lifestyle changes – exercising or moving more, eating better, quitting smoking – are great places to start in setting goals. Set achievable targets that are meaningful for where you are, plus where you want to be in a few months’ time. Here are some ideas.
- Make a pact to keep up with medications and treatments and re-booking any medical appointments you may have been putting off. The new year is a great time to schedule a review with your healthcare team to develop an action plan or review your existing plan, have your inhaler technique checked or discuss any change in symptoms and any other question or concerns. We have a range of resources available to help you live your best life with a lung condition.
- As you settle back into your day-to-day routine, new habits can fall by the wayside but a peer network with like-minded people who understand what you’re going through can be a great way to stay motivated. We have a range of peer groups available to support and encourage you.
- Our lungs, like every organ in our body, benefit from a nutritious and balanced diet. Speak to a dietician for advice on ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight range; or check out the tips from our Respiratory Health Nurse. Unless otherwise advised, your diet should generally include a colourful variety of nutritious foods across the food groups (vegetables, fruit, grains, lean meats and dairy). Keep in mind that people living with chronic lung conditions use considerably more energy than people with normal lung function so it’s important to speak to a health professional about your individual circumstances.
- Keeping physically active every day is equally as important as diet – this could be as simple as a gentle walk around your yard. Talk to your health professional about attending a pulmonary exercise and Lungs in Action program (where COVID-19 allows) and check out our free online at-home exercise series. Increasing your movement while dealing with a lung condition can be daunting but regular exercise not only helps your mental wellbeing but can reduce symptoms such as breathlessness. Finding the right fit for you is important, so no matter what stage of your physical journey, speak to your doctor or specialist first.
- It may feel like a more ambitious goal for some but quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. There are immediate benefits to quitting at any age; the sooner, the better. There are even health benefits if a person has already been diagnosed with a smoking-related disease. Read more about our tips and the support available to help you quit, here.
- Finally, whatever goal/s you set yourself, write them down. Tracking your goals and displaying them somewhere prominent that you see daily (fridge, bathroom mirror) will help you monitor your progress and maintain momentum, especially on those days when you feel like giving up. Don’t go it alone – chat regularly to your family and friends, seek advice from your health professional and reach out to support services. And be sure to include, and even schedule, time to unwind with a hobby or favourite activity.