Health and emotional wellbeing

It can be overwhelming when you are diagnosed with a chronic or rare lung disease or lung cancer. You may feel that life is now different – the world has somehow changed – and you may experience feelings of isolation and distress. You should know that it’s not uncommon for people with lung disease to suffer from these feelings, but the good news is, with support, you can get the help you need to regain the best quality of life available to you. There are many others going through the same thing, and there is help out there, so first and foremost remember: you are not alone.

Self-care and wellbeing

Self-care is about undertaking any activity that can help with your physical, emotional and mental health. It’s a regular commitment to look after yourself through helpful activities that can help to protect your wellbeing. Paying attention to what is happening to yourself both physically and emotionally, can help to identify when something is affecting you adversely.

It’s important to take time out when you need take care of your mental and physical health. Self-care can be an everyday way of living by including it into your day-to-day routines to maintain positive wellbeing. It can take many shapes and forms and may be different for everyone. Self-care doesn’t need to take up a lot of time or cost a lot of money. People benefit from self-care in different ways. It is important to identify the activities which will be most beneficial to you.

Tips for engaging in your own self-care

  • Take a break when you need it. If you are feeling overwhelmed, taking some time for yourself can help you feel refreshed.
  • Stay in touch with family and friends who encourage and support you.
  • Establish a connection with an activity you enjoy – reading, cooking, listening to music, walking or sitting in the outdoors are simple ways to start.
  • Think about ways to look after your physical health, prioritise sleep and aim to make healthy food choices.
  • Physical activity can be great for your health and stress relief. If you aren’t exercising, ask your doctor if physical activity would be suitable for you before you start.
  • Set boundaries and recognise your own limitations. It’s okay to say “no” to others when you need to.
  • Talking about your feelings to a trusted friend can help you feel supported.
  • Try to identify your stress indicators, such as short temper, withdrawal from friends and family, feeling overwhelmed or drained.
  • Know that it is okay to be gentle with yourself and to take things slowly. Take time to consider how you might spend some time today that will help you to feel calmer or happier.
  • Seek help for yourself if you need to talk. You can start with a Helpline service or speak with your GP.

Your General Practitioner (GP)
If you feel you need extra support your GP can provide a gateway for referral.  They can prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan for you which can help you and your GP to work out what services you need and decide on the best management options. Talking with your GP can help you understand what you are eligible for can help you access relevant services.

1. Adapted from Wilson, Melissa (2015) Self-care: 13 ways to support yourself and someone you love  through a mental health crisis SANE Australia website accessed 30/09/19.

Anxiety and depression – symptoms and support

The feelings of isolation, distress and fear can often turn into depression and anxiety. Some of the main symptoms of depression include low mood, loss of interest in daily activities, fatigue or low energy levels. The main symptoms of anxiety are fear, restlessness, sleep disturbances and reduced concentration and memory. If you recognise these symptoms, the first step is early diagnosis by your health professional.

There are many things that can assist you in getting your life back on track.  There is evidence that supports the effectiveness of medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, exercise programs and relaxation therapy. You may not need all these therapies – your healthcare provider will help you determine which therapies will best suit you. Take the first step to emotional wellbeing and recovery and speak to your healthcare provider to get you started on the right track.


One of the most important interventions people with a chronic lung condition can do to manage depression and anxiety is exercise. The idea of exercising may sound daunting, but evidence is emerging showing the effectiveness of exercise in people with different lung conditions, including bronchiectasis, Interstitial Lung Disease and lung cancer. It can help you understand more about your lung condition, manage your breathlessness and help you with your confidence.

Your healthcare professional will either refer you to a physiotherapist or similar to discuss an exercise plan suited to you. Read more about lung disease and exercise, here.

Healthy Eating

A healthy diet plays an important role in better wellbeing. For people with a chronic lung condition, it’s important to think about how your diet can assist you in managing your symptoms.  A good diet means eating a variety of food from each of the five food groups every day, in the right amount. For people with respiratory disease, there are studies to support a diet high in fruit and vegetables, and avoidance of highly processed and takeaway foods.