Exhausted octopus laying on a couch

Limitations to Everyday Living

People constantly say that the hardest part of living with COPD is in the limitations of everyday living. At Resp Rehab, I was taught that breaking tasks down into smaller parts is the key to being productive with COPD. We all have the same problems with shortness of breath or dyspnea. Most of us have been warned that we need to slow down and pace ourselves. Even when we don’t want to slow down, we must because it is a necessity in saving our internal organs.

What was in the past

I was a multi-tasker for many years. When my kids were small and I was running around the house and working full time, I managed it all and could get several tasks completed at a time. It was as if I was an octopus with 8 arms.

Those days have sadly passed and they are not coming back again. I have aged and with aging, I have lost muscle mass and body strength, but with COPD, this loss is exacerbated. My upper body has suffered the most, but now I am often unsure of my footing and I am slower in completing tasks of all varieties.

Breaking tasks down to complete them

Now, instead of accomplishing multiple tasks at a time, each task needs to be broken into multiple parts. When a trip to my home office means that I pass three rooms, I put some thought into my journey. I will save myself some steps later by accomplishing something now.

Looking around, I see if anything needs to go with me and be deposited in those rooms that I pass. I may as well take those items with me while I am on my way. Stopping into each room, I am putting things away while I am there. Being organized means putting things back into their place and where they belong and that leaves me with less clutter giving me a clearer space and a clearer head.

Reaching my destination and resting

Upon reaching my destination, this space becomes my resting place. I can close the door and take as much time as I need. Now, it is time to practice deep abdominal and pursed lip breathing. Using Mindfulness, I pick one object to focus on. Keep your mind clear, push away distractions and focus on that one object.

Four, six, and eight-count breathing

Breathe deep in through your nose for the count of 4, hold that breath for the count of 6 and exhale through pursed lips for the count of 8. Practice five times each time you reach any destination and do not leave your destination until your breath is regained. Take as much time as you need putting the same thought into your return journey.

Finishing a task

Once you have finished what you have come to do, look around and ask yourself what things might need to leave this room and be taken back to other rooms you pass on the way back.

I believe that we can still be productive with COPD. We still have a purpose and work to do and with a bit of forethought, we can get it all done in due time.

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