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British Lung Foundation
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Saving energy

I came across these tips, which I find useful, and hope you do.

Please remember these are suggestions: Take from them what will help you.

Pacing ourselves is one of the most important things we all have to learn. A prime consideration in regulating the tempo of daily living should be the awareness that your limits will fluctuate from day to day or even hour to hour.

Some days we just don't feel like doing anything at all and that is ok too as long as it doesn't last long. Or you have a day you wake up and feel like taking on the world, well just don't overdo it!

Don't take on more than you can handle comfortably and when you feel tired, QUIT. Remember, energy is like money in the bank -- to be spent wisely.

It is good for us to try to extend ourselves, if it is done with a little common sense. Here are a few suggestions that will help.

1. Wait until an hour or more after eating. Digestion draws blood, with its oxygen, away from muscles leaving them less able to cope with extra demands.

2. You may find you feel you're best soon after taking your medicine or having breathing treatment.

3. Those that have had an aerosol inhaler prescribed by their physician can use it to help a special effort, being careful NEVER to use more than prescribed.

4. Pace yourself and don't rush.

5. If you feel breathless, use pursed lip breathing. Remember -- this really helps and you can do it anytime, any place.

It is important to remember that each COPD patient is unique. No two have exactly the same needs. You will find here some suggestions which will help you greatly and others which may seem nonsensical

Waking up

This is always a difficult moment for some folks and if you are not feeling up to snuff, it can be a real chore. Some hints:

Try some stretching and relaxing exercises while still lying down.

These do help to get your body in gear for the day as every cat in the world knows.

You will have gotten your morning clothes ready the night before and put them on before getting all the way up.


If for some reason you find a shower or bathtub too demanding, a great solution is to get a bath stool. This is waterproof and goes right into the tub. It can be removed easily and make a nice seat when are drying your feet and legs.

For bathing, use a hand spray which may be attached to the tub faucet or shower head.

A nice, long terry robe will eliminate the effort of drying altogether, just blot.

When excess humidity bothers you, leave the bathroom door open and be sure to use your bathroom exhaust fan if you have one. If you feel weak, don't take a bath or shower if you are alone.

Those using oxygen through a long tube may find it makes bathing easier if the tube is passed over the shower curtain rod and out of the way.

Shaving or making up is much easier if you have a low mirror so that you can site down while doing either.

It is OK to remove the nasal cannula briefly to wash your face, shave or apply makeup.


We all have personal tastes in clothing but there is one consideration which affects most COPD people. It is a bad idea to restrict chest and abdominal expansion.

For this reason, belts, bras, etc that are tight should be avoided.

Men may find that suspenders are more comfortable than belts.

Almost all of us prefer slip-on type shoes -- no bending over to tie the shoe lace! Putting on any kind of shoe is made much easier if you use a long ( 12"-18") shoehorn.

Women who have given up bras may find camisoles a comfortable and pretty substitute. Another alternative is to try a sports bra for firm, yet soft, support.

Both men and women should avoid tight neck bands.


Get yourself a small utility cart, the kind with three shelves. As you move about doing chores, use your cart to carry everything needing transferral from one place to another.

Pick up last night's newspaper, some soiled clothes for the laundry, a couple of used dishes, books to go back to the library, clean towels for the bathroom, etc. Try to travel in a circle and avoid going back and forth.

Carrying things downstairs is not a problem for most of us. Carrying them up may be a different story. There is one way: On an exhale, lift your burden two or three steps and put it down, rest.

Climb two or three steps, rest again.


This may be a little slow, but it is possible to do the job without knocking yourself out.

One of the handiest of gadgets is a gripper used for retrieving things from hard to reach places. Most medical supply houses and drugstores stock these.

If you must use a vacuum, use a machine with a disposable bag and remove with extreme care. It is hard to imagine anything more irritating to lungs than shaking out a dust bag.

A small hand vacuum is easy to use for spot cleanups and can stay on your cart.

A damp cloth for dusting is also good but if you hesitate to use one on wood furniture, here is a good disposable duster you can make for yourself.

Get a roll of crinkly paper towels and a bottle of lemon oil from a hardware store. Tear towel in sections and fold in quarters, put about 4 or 5 coin sized dots of oil on each towel and roll up tight.

Store in a plastic bag or glass jar. Use and throw away.

Even with precautions, housework is apt to stir up dust. If you must do a dusty job, the best idea is to use a mask.

Around the house the "no aerosol" rule applies with no "ifs, ands or buts." Don't even think of inhaling oven cleaner or bathroom cleaner, any of which may contain lye, ammonia or other "goodies"!

Avoid using anything harmful that can vaporize, such as kerosene, mothballs and solvents. Avoid, also, as far as possible, powders; if they must be used, handle with extreme care.

Have good ventilation and an adequate supply of fresh air at all times.


A number of small meals is always better than a few large ones.

Common sense tells us that the more room the stomach takes up, the less room there is for air in the lungs.

If you enjoy cooking, it is often almost as easy to make double or triple amount of your specialties. Freeze the excess in meal-size containers and enjoy some cook-free meals when you feel like a day off.

When cooking, always use your exhaust fan, or make sure there is good ventilation.

If you can find one a rolling stool in the kitchen with adjustable height can make it easier to do things like peeling potatoes and other "tiresome" jobs we need to do at counter.

When tidying up after a meal, assemble all items which need putting away in one spot. Then sit down and put them away.


Again all COPD people are different in many ways. One way is in our reactions to weather. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some damp, some dry. The point is that if it is your kind of day, try to get out and enjoy.

One thing which does bother us all considerably is air pollution.

Find out where you can get a daily air quality report from your area and use it when making your plans for the day.

In cold weather, also wear a nice long, warm scarf, and if it gets too cold or windy, do not hesitate to wind it across your nose.

Those of you who do consider outdoor walking may find that a cane seat or shooting stick is a real help. It gives you a cane to lean on and a small seat if you feel like resting. There are also the walkers with wheels and seats that make trips easier.


If you are going shopping with an oxygen carrier, try to find a shopping cart on your way into the store. Put your oxygen pack in the cart while you shop. Or if you need to, ride on one of the carts that most stores have on hand for people with disabilities.

When you go shopping try to pick an off day and hour .

When you have a fairly large grocery order, have all the "spoil-able," such as frozen foods, packed in a separate bag.

When you get home, you can put away whatever needs refrigeration.

Leave the rest for later when you feel more energetic or a "helper" can lend a hand.

It may be a good idea to carry a small tube of alcohol gel or anti-bacterial hand wash for those times when bathroom facilities are few and far-between.

There are more tips then can be written in one letter. I found this information at the American Lung Association's site- Around the Clock with COPD

8 Replies

Some very good points covered tamariki and l will be showing Pete your post. Thank you. Xxx

1 like

Thanks for that post....some really good, well laid out tips there.

Any body got any ideas for a bathroom cleaner though....I find sprays affect me badly...I tried using washing up liquid to clean the shower and that made in slippery.


Remove the spray top and use the contents straight from the bottle, or cover the nozzle with a damp sponge or cloth and spray directly into that.


Am sure I've read/heard somewhere (but don't quote me on this) that Jiff lemon is supposed to be good..I mean that lemon you put on your pancakes and it leaves your bathroom smelling nice knitter!

L x

1 like

Morning Tamariki, thank you very much for these tips..very helpful and food for thought when your starting your day up until bedtime..it's all about re-educating yourself and minimising excess effort when we are poorly..

Thanks again much appreciated

L x


Thanks for you're post , it made good reading. Like you say, some of it we already know but there were lots of handy hints too. Will you do another one?

1 like

Hi great tips thank you. I will add 3 more.

If you have to bend down most people inhale first. Don't. Exhale instead as it will make the task easier. I learnt that one at PR.

After bathing or showering, if you get breathless buy a full length towelling robe and just wrap it round yourself. That way you don't need to dry yourself and get further out of breath.

Use a cyliinder vacuum cleaner rather an an upright as you can sit down more whilst doing it. It is also easier to pull round and to fix if it gets clogged up. x


some good advice thank you xxx


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