When breathlessness or fatigue limits your ability to commence, continue or complete an activity remember to PLAN, PREPARE, PACE & PAUSE.
Before stopping an activity, consider whether you could make it easier by using the following energy saving techniques.
People with lung disease use more energy simply to breathe. Therefore, it is important to coordinate your breathing with all activities. Even the simplest tasks use energy.
- Standing up: Breathe in before you move. Breathe out as you rise up from your seat.
- Lifting an object above your head: Breathe in before you lift. Breathe out as you lift your arms above you.
- Putting on shoes: Breathe in before you move. Breathe out as you bend down to put on your shoe.
- DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH
Keep your arms and body close to the activity you are performing:
- Carry objects close to your body.
- Organise equipment or food to be within easy reach.
- Keep most activities between waist and shoulder level:
- Store commonly used items on middle shelves between your waist and shoulders.
- Work at benches that are at waist height.
- Use long handled equipment (for example, long handled reacher, long handled pruning shears, a broom, a dressing stick, a sock aid and a bathing brush).
- If you can sit doing a task (eg showering) – do. Sitting saves energy. Using a chair isn’t ‘giving in’, it is outsmarting your disease!
Bring your feet to you (for example, rest your foot on your knee to towel dry, put on socks, and tie up your laces).
Avoid heavy lifting:
- Use trolleys, push rather than pull, slide rather than lift.
- Let your bigger muscles do the work – squat with your legs, avoid bending your back.
- Ask for help.
- Divide the load e.g.: groceries, half fill the kettle.
Continuing to work until you are out of breath may then take you longer to recover. So take regular breaks to rest and recover while working. Don’t wait until you need a break.
- High expectations can lead to frustration, so be patient with yourself and set achievable goals.
- Challenge old habits. Ask yourself ‘Is it essential that this task be performed in the usual way?’
- Plan for rest breaks and interruptions.
- Break jobs into smaller steps.
- Prepare and prioritise.
- Use a diary or calendar to plan daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
- Put items where they can be found easily and quickly.
- Keep most frequently used items between waist and shoulder level.
- Use equipment that makes the job easier, eg. light weight crockery, long handled reachers, long-handled garden equipment, stools, trolleys, velcro shoes, buttonless shirts and clothes that don’t need ironing.
- Use slow, rhythmic movements.
- Alternate light and heavy activities.
- Spread heavier tasks throughout the day, week and month.
- Learn to ask for help, or get someone else to do the task, such as family members, community services, neighbours, volunteers or friends. Asking for help does not mean you are dependent, it means you are using your energy to its best advantage.
- Avoid strenuous tasks, particularly in hot weather.
- Where possible, control the temperature in your environment.
- Use fans, air conditioners, heaters.
- Avoid extremes in temperature.
- Reduce steam – open doors, windows, use the exhaust fan in the bathroom
- Find the time of day that is best for you to complete activities.
Avoid strenuous activity after meals.
- When you feel worried, anxious or uptight your body uses a greater amount of energy.
- This can add to feelings of being tired or breathless.
- Relaxation can help restore energy.
- Concentrate on relaxing your muscles and slowing down your breathing. Some useful relaxation techniques can be found via the Beyond Blue website by clicking here.