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You Must Release Those Endorphins

Depression is prevalent this time of year. The days are cold, and nights are long. We fear going into public because we could run into someone with cold or flu, our most dreaded enemy. We lock ourselves inside and avoid companionship.

Family that lives far away can be of little help and too many of us suffer in silence. Being diagnosed with COPD alone can be depressing but when you are constantly being told that you don’t look sick, it begins to feel like people don’t believe you.

In fact, they do believe you, but they are at a loss as to what to say or do. And, the fact that you look good should be taken as a compliment. It’s your ‘superpower’ that you can be this sick and look so good.

It gets to all of us at times

So, what can we do about it? We can exercise. We have known for many years that exercise releases endorphins that are a mood enhancer. It was a foreign concept for me before my diagnosis. I was a walker all my life, but I didn’t really participate in a formal exercise program.

Formal rehabilitation program

Once I was diagnosed with COPD, I attended a formal rehabilitation program. It opened my eyes to the world of exercise. It made me feel good. It gave me strength that I hadn’t know for years. It turned the face of my COPD. I had found something positive that I could do. I could feel the strength.

We began with sitting exercises to build the upper body and that gave us the strength to carry our poor lagging lungs. There are many videos for sitting exercises throughout COPD.net.

Stronger and stronger

As each day passed, we got stronger and stronger. We then moved on to building our legs muscles. This involves cardio to help your heart get stronger so it can support your ailing lungs. Building legs is tough but no one said it was going to be easy. Now we did both upper body and lower body on rotating days. This gave our stretched muscles time to rest before we strained them again. This was the first time in my life that I spent so much time on me. After being married for 35 years and raising 3 children, I was finally developing me, and it felt wonderfully freeing.

Breathing was the next step

Breathing was the next step to rehab. It is amazing to me that I had been breathing all my life, but at the age of 60, I finally learned how to do it properly. I learned about pursing my lips to let additional air out and allow room to let fresh air in my lungs. I learned about abdominal breathing and deep, slow breathing that calmed me and allowed me to focus on this moment, counting my breaths.

Mindfulness practice saved my life

The final part of rehab consisted of mindfulness practice. This saved my life. They talked to us about how anxiety could take over and make us feel worse than we needed to. In order to combat anxiety, we could practice mindfulness and by staying in the moment and practicing our breathing techniques we could ward off anxiety and catch our breath. Release those endorphins and get exercising. Ask your doctor for a referral but get started today by checking out YouTube. No formal training is necessary.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Pris
    1 month ago

    I am too depressed and lethargic to move myself. Nothing interests me any more… I search TV and internet to find something to hold my attention.
    Sometimes I think I’m just waiting to die. However, I would be very interested in a rehab program… especially to learn how to breathe! I’m not sure where to find one. My pulmonologist is rather uninterested… unless he can charge me for a visit (just to relay test results). Last summer, I had a lung cancer scare. After two months of tests (including a lung biopsy) and intense anxiety, it was diagnosed as sarcoidosis. I need to pause to catch my breath when I’m walking. I also get vertigo when first getting out of bed or out of a car. Inhaler does nothing… but at least Anoro doesn’t cause thrush! Over and out.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    1 month ago

    Pris, I hear you about not wanting to do anything but you have a life to live and the fact that you would be interested in a Rehab program tells me that you are interested in doing just that. Talk to your GP about finding a new pulmo doctor that can help you. It would a shame not to.
    Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • Allyson.Ellis moderator
    1 month ago

    I hear how much you are struggling, Pris. The winter months especially can get long and difficult. I know many lose motivation for anything during this season! I’m glad you finally got an accurate diagnosis after such extensive testing over the summer. That sounds like it was quite a scary ordeal! For those who cannot access pulmonary rehab in their area for one reason or another, an alternate option is finding instructional online videos, such as through YouTube, and learning some of the pulmonary rehab skills that way. While it lacks the support of a group setting, it is a way to gain some of the benefit that pulmonary rehab classes offer. I also thought these articles, which discuss breathing techniques might be of interest to you:
    https://copd.net/living/dont-breathe-in-breathe-out/
    https://copd.net/living-with-copd/pulmonary-rehab/breathing-strategies/
    Please keep us posted on how you are managing. Wishing you a gentle day. ~Allyson (COPD.net team)

  • Janet Plank moderator
    2 months ago

    Barbara, this is great information. Thank you for this.
    Janet (site moderator)

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    1 month ago

    Thank you Janet.
    Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

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