The Mind is a Tool for Managing COPD
Last updated: October 2018
I have often talked about providing patients with tools for their toolbox to manage their COPD. One of the most important tools for managing any disease is your mindset.
It’s important to realize the role our moods play in disease progression. We have all heard about the power of positive thinking. But do we consider this a rule or just a trendy phrase used by people who are already in a great place?
Early in my diagnosis, if someone told me to stay positive, I would become agitated as my thoughts were. It’s easy for you to say to stay positive, you’re not dealing with COPD. As time went on, it became apparent that feeling sorry for myself was not working for me.
So what changed?
It is important when you are first diagnosed with COPD to look for positives. This should start with the diagnosis from your doctor. I have heard many stories over the years of a patient being diagnosed with COPD and told to go home, get their affairs in order, and make themselves comfortable.
Being told this in your initial diagnosis is not going to give you a very positive outlook. However, what if when you are diagnosed, you are told there are ways to slow the progression of your disease. Or that you can still enjoy your life? What if your doctor referred you to a dietician and pulmonary rehabilitation, so you could breathe easier and improve your body’s ability to utilize oxygen better.
For me, the change in mindset came when my energy levels returned after seeing a Chinese medicine doctor. I don’t know if it was his herbs which gave me more energy or whether it was a placebo effect. Whatever it was, the new-found energy gave me the desire to start walking every day. I’m sure many of you know once you can start being active, those endorphins are released and you feel much better about yourself.
To suggest activity will forever rid you of any negative thoughts about your struggles with COPD would be wrong. We all have our good days and bad days. But when every day is a bad day, you spiral into a very negative thought process. This will inevitably affect your symptoms and how you feel on a day to day basis. When you have experienced those good days, it gives you strength to pick yourself up.
Mental strength is often talked about in many facets of life. It is what is often needed to get us through the challenges we face. As COPD patients, we are not only challenged with what life throws at everyone, but we are also challenged with the inability to breathe.
When you’re thinking about your own challenges in life and looking for reasons to be positive, think of this. Do you want people to feel sorry for you because you just cannot deal with your COPD? Or do you want people to admire how you fight against your COPD?
Easier said than done, I know. But the power of your mind can be a powerful tool. My motto is to never let your disease define you. What’s yours?
Where do you stand with your COPD?