Asthma is a chronic illness, but with the right Asthma Action Plan, there's no reason to let it take over your life and prevent you from doing any of the things you want to do.
However, what will also help you feel better and your lungs to work better is to get healthier overall. Here are a few changes you can make this year to have a healthier you.
1. Partner up with your doctor(s). The healthiest people are those who don't just become passive participants in their health care. Instead, they consider their physician to be an expert consultant, but they become active health care team members by communicating openly about treatment, side effects and how they are feeling, while participating in decision-making. They learn about their disease so they can talk knowledgeably about new treatments on the horizon, as well as risks vs. benefits.
2. Adopt a new healthy habit every month. Your asthma won't bother you as much if you are healthier overall. There are many things you can do, such as getting more active, making healthier food choices, managing your stress better, losing weight, and getting plenty of rest. Don't try to make the changes all at once. One month, you might focus on eating more fruits and vegetables and the next on adding a walking or other exercise routine to your lifestyle 4 or 5 times a week. Before you know it, your overall lifestyle will be much healthier!
3. Learn how to pace your exercise. This is something I've found really makes a difference with my exercise-induced asthma. If I start out slow and build the intensity very gradually, all the time listening to my body, I often don't have to use my rescue inhaler at all. Or, if the exercise will be intense, such as hiking up a steep incline, I might use the inhaler before I start, but not need it again. It really does make a difference.
4. Work to get your allergies under control, if you have them. Asthma and allergies often go hand in hand. Since asthma is usually the more bothersome and life-threatening disease, people may focus more on getting that under control, while just "putting up" with allergies. I know that's often true for me. But studies show that when allergies are better controlled, so is asthma, because they are so closely linked. So take your allergy medicine, consult with an allergist, find out about allergy shots... whatever it takes to get allergies under control this year. When your asthma symptoms abate, you'll be glad you did.
5. Work harder to eliminate your environmental triggers. Getting rid of our triggers is an ongoing battle, but every effort you make is worth it. Pick a different trigger to focus on each month and do something different to reduce it. For instance, you could make February the month you buy zippered covers for your bed pillows and mattress. March might be the month you check your home for any leaks or dripping water where mold might grow, and so on.
6. Improve your outlook on life. There are many facets to good health. Physical health is certainly part of it, but your mental/emotional health is also important. When we're happier and more positive, we tend to feel better physically too. One way to improve your outlook on life is to focus on the things you are grateful for in your life. Starting and ending each day with a few minutes of gratitude can make a huge difference. You can be thankful for both the big and the small things in your life. Being grateful for the fact that the sun shone all day long or that your child told you she loved you can be just as wonderful as winning the lottery or getting the job of your dreams.