Everybody has to cope with something. It may not seem fair, but all of us are faced with problems all the time … perhaps every day … maybe all day long. If you are like most people, you have already been coping with all kinds of stressful situations. And now you’re expected to add one more thing to the list: coping with a chronic lung disease, COPD.
You may have felt stunned when you first learned of your diagnosis. If you had never heard of COPD before, the explanation you received may have seemed pretty mysterious and even frightening. Or maybe you felt relieved to finally know what was causing your symptoms. Some people respond to learning about their breathing problems by diving right in and learning everything they can about it. They feel like they are taking charge and exerting some control over their condition. Other people prefer to learn about lung disease more slowly. This gives them time to let the information sink in. It gives time to think about their questions. These are just two examples of the kinds of coping styles people commonly use when they learn about their medical condition.
In this chapter, we discuss the many ways people cope with problems in general, and with COPD in particular. We talk about common emotional responses many people feel when they learn about having a medical condition like COPD. We provide some suggestions for how to deal with this stress. We describe some skills and strategies that can help you deal with many common emotional problems. However, this information is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling if it is needed.
The information provided here is based on established principles that have been well-accepted by many health care providers. Some of it may seem to be just good old common sense. But there may be other material that is new to you.
In this Chapter, We Provide Information to Help You Learn:
- How to recognize your physical and emotional responses to stress
- How you can enhance your coping strategies for dealing with stress
- What good communication means and how you can improve your skills
- How to seek help from friends, family and other resources
- How defining your values and goals can help you solve problems