It's Party Time! Nine Tips to Help You Save Energy and Breathe Better This Holiday Season

Health Professional

The holidays are upon us, and if you're anything like me, you're wondering how you're going to fit everything in and still have time to enjoy this merry season. And if you're living with COPD, taking part in all this activity might seem like way too much to tackle. You might be thinking, "I barely have enough energy and enough breath as it is. How am I going to survive - let alone enjoy - the holidays?

Well, here are some tips - Nine of them, in fact, to help you conserve that precious energy - and breath - so you can have a joyful holiday season. In a sharepost last year, "Living with COPD: 10 Tips to Enjoy the Holidays" we discussed a variety of issues to consider. In this article, we're going to talk specifically about saving your energy to make holiday tasks easier.

1.) Prioritize - Which events do you really want to attend, and which ones are actually more an obligation to make someone else happy? Do what means the most to you and politely tell your friends and loved ones that you have only so much breath to go around. Maybe you can do something fun with them after the first of the year when life is not so hectic.

2.) Position yourself - If you're at a family gathering and you want to help but don't have a lot of energy or endurance, ask if there is something you can do while sitting down. Maybe you can arrange a veggie or deli platter, fold napkins, or wrap gifts. If you have trouble standing for an extended period of time, don't volunteer to do the dishes. Rather, you might sit at the table and dry them. Guys"this goes for you, too

3.) Plan ahead - We talked about this in our other post, but it is important enough to go over it again. Being in a hurry is probably one of biggest breath-robbers for people with COPD! Give yourself plenty of time to get ready, gather your goodies, and arrive at your destination with breath to spare.

4.) Place yourself - Don't seat yourself near triggers such as cooking fumes, steamy pots, scented candles, or stuffy, overly warm areas. Sit where there is more likely to be moving air, near a fan or a cracked-open door or window.

5.) Pack it and pull it - If you have gifts or other items to bring along, tote them in a rolling cart. If you don't have a cart, leave your packages and potluck in the car and ask a more able family member to go get them for you. If neither of these is an option, pack your stuff into a backpack or a tote bag, preferably with a long enough strap to go over your head and across your chest. It really helps to carry a load close to your body instead of in your hands. This also can keep your hands free to hold on to a railing or the arm of a friend.

6.) Push it - Use a grocery cart every time you shop, even if you're not buying a lot. Wipe the handle with anti-bacterial cleaner before you grab it. Ask the bagger to pack your bags light. More lightweight bags are easier to carry than a few heavy ones.

7.) Pump it up - Although it might be tempting to skip pulmonary rehab class or routine exercise, keep in mind that exercise helps reduce stress and also burns off the extra calories you're likely to consume. Besides that, it's fun to celebrate the holidays with your friends at pulmonary rehab. If you absolutely don't have the time or energy for aerobic exercise, at least do your stretches and strength training. It will keep you feeling good, and flexible.

8. Pucker up and Pace - Use your breathing techniques! You know (or at least I hope you do) that pursed-lips breathingreally makes a big difference in helping you stay in control of your breathing. Slow down and remind yourself to do it, even if you have to count it out: In one, two"Out two, three, four. Ahhhh"

9.) Puff your O2 - If your doctor has prescribed oxygen, wear it. Everybody at that party needs oxygen, for every single breath. You just happen to need a little more. Give your body a break and nourish it with O2. You will be less tired and your lungs, heart, and brain will be a lot less stressed!

Prioritize, Position, Plan, Pace, Pack, Pull, Push, Pump, Pucker, Pace and Puff. You'll breathe easier and you'll have a great time!

Jane M. Martin is a licensed respiratory therapist, teacher and the founder and director of and author of Breathe Better, Live in Wellness.