Four Lifestyle Changes That Improved My CF
How many times have you heard the following advice: you should drink more water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and make sure to exercise? A bunch, right! Why? Because it's all sound advice to improve your health.
With cystic fibrosis, I have tried every suggested lifestyle change in an effort to help control my symptoms and daily experience living. Some have worked better than others. Here are four lifestyle changes that have had a positive impact on my physical and mental health.
Working from home
About a year ago, I made a job change that went from commuting 25 minutes to work to working from home. At my old job, I was a nanny for a wonderful family for five years whom I adored. As much as I loved my job, it was physically draining and put stress on my body--especially when I wasn’t feeling well.
I transitioned to a job that was 100% working from home, on the computer, at my own pace. (This job to be exact!) Writing content gave me a lot of freedom and flexibility to devote as much time as I needed to focus on my health. My career change has undoubtedly made me healthier because of certain perks including:
- Making my own schedule
- Ability to do extra airway clearance, IV antibiotics, exercise or takes naps as needed
- No commuting = more sleep
- Less exposure to germs
- Unlimited access to snacks and meals
If you have the ability to work from home with CF, I highly suggest giving it a try. It may be a lifestyle change that gives you more flexibility to make working with CF a healthy experience.
Staying organized with CF can be a real struggle. All the pills, medications, and equipment is enough to make you lose your mind. It takes a lot of effort to complete a care routine if you can’t find anything.
Organization makes taking medications and completing treatments easier. It also helps keep me up-to-date on what prescriptions need refills before I run out, and unfortunately, curses the slow pace of the pharmaceutical industry. Before developing an organization system for my medications, I was a forgetful hot mess, barely functioning. After implementing some "system," I at least know what I have taken and where everything is.
Focusing on quality sleep
Quality sleep is vital to health and over wellbeing, but is often an issue in the CF community. People with CF often report poor sleep quality, insomnia, sleep disturbances, and snoring which have an impact on quality of life.1 In a study conducted in 2018, 56.6% of patients were reported to be poor sleepers.1 That means if you or a loved one has CF, chances are they aren't sleeping very well.
How do you improve sleep with CF?
Personally, improving sleep living with CF meant establishing a good bedtime routine and treating my symptoms enough prior to bed to get restful sleep.
A good bedtime routine for me means:
- Using a heated mattress pad to help with aches and pains
- Drinking a cup of Sleepytime tea
- Winding down with my evening breathing treatments
In addition, it also meant completing a sleep study test to make sure I was receiving enough oxygen at night when oxygen levels natural fall.2
Connecting with CF friends
CF can be incredibly lonely at the end of the day, but if you have the right support from CF friends it makes all the difference. Whether it’s asking health-related questions or leaning on them during frustrating times, no one will understand more about what you are feeling or thinking than someone who has been in your shoes. Having a close-knit group of CF friends has improved my mental health and ability to cope with CF exponentially.
I don’t know where I would be mentally without my close CF friends. Having friendships like theirs makes me feel more connected, accountable, and hopeful while living with CF.
What lifestyle changes have helped improve your life with cystic fibrosis? Share in the comments below!
Do your pets help with your cystic fibrosis?