Handling the Holidays with COPD

Handling the Holidays with COPD

Last updated: August 2017

It’s that time of year again! In a recent survey, 96% of individuals with COPD indicated they enjoy spending more time with their friends and family during the holiday season. But while the holidays often bring loved ones together, it can also bring stress, which may be escalated by having COPD.

Of those surveyed, 81% appreciate that the holidays give them both a reason and an opportunity to get out of their house, but some fear catching a cold or the flu. However, most cite that their friends and family make more of an effort to visit and spend more time with them, and many individuals with COPD will make the time they can spend with family or friends extra special.

42% indicated that traveling long distances during the holidays is a challenge, so in-home visits are often preferred. Almost half of those surveyed struggle to attend events or parties— 9 out of 10 expect to skip a party or event at some point this holiday season. Of those individuals who will miss out on such occasions, 63% feel that their friends and family to some extent don’t understand why, and 82% feel guilty about their lack of attendance.

Planning a party, however, is less of a struggle for individuals, and 71% of all surveyed cited that they plan events and parties well in advance to allow for proper preparation. Conversely, hosting an event is a challenge for almost half. Fortunately, 61% feel comfortable delegating tasks to friends and 77% to family members during this time of year, which speaks to the important role of a support system when managing COPD.

The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stressful. 77% of respondents experience more depression during the holidays than they do the rest of the year. Many people overlook the emotional impact of this condition, and as such most respondents find that they have to put on a happy face and try not to let others know how they’re really feeling during the holidays.

But despite the seasonal stressors, many individuals noted they receive additional support from their friends and family during this time of year. 73% of respondents recount that their friends and family offer to help them more so during the holiday season and many also feel they receive some level of emotional support from their loved ones.

While it may be easier said than done, respondents report that one way to achieve a low-stress holiday season is to embrace help from others – let them know what you need and don’t be embarrassed to tell others if something is bothering your COPD.

The holidays can be hard, but they can be managed. Keep an open dialogue with your friends and family and don’t be afraid to say “no” or delegate where needed. Sometimes the best holiday celebration is a quiet evening with a warm fire and a good book.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the "Handling the Holidays" survey! The 106 COPD patients surveyed were followers of COPD.net; 92% female and 8% male, ranging in age from 31 to over 75. 57% of those surveyed were married or in a committed long-term relationship and 92% had children. Of those with children, 95% had children all over the age of 18. Over a third (38%) of those surveyed were diagnosed with COPD more than 5 years ago and 13% within the past year. Among those surveyed an average of 4 holidays were typically celebrated this time of year.

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