We are now more than six months into the year. Six months from our last New Year resolutions.
Did you resolve to take charge of your asthma?
To never have to rush to the emergency room again?
To stick to a routine of taking your medication the way it should be taken, or to look into some of the alternative treatments that might work for you?
Statistics show that the emergency rooms are just as busy. Surveys show that people are not taking their medication properly. Far too many resolutions have not been kept. Why?
You are a victim of routine, that's why. Many resolutions don't stand a chance because we have spent years establishing routines and habits that work against them. What we need to do is establish new routines.
Here are 4 simple steps to help you get back on course.
1. Set up cues. I admit I'm one of the many who just fell out of the habit of using my inhaler regularly. I reacted to symptoms by taking a reliever but neglected the controller medication that addressed the underlying causes of my asthma. The problem with these medications is they do not give an immediate benefit so it doesn't seem to matter if you miss a dose. Yet they make a great difference to your asthma in the long term. How did I start using my inhaler regularly again? I simply put it beside my toothbrush. Now I regularly use my inhaler because I cannot avoid it. Perhaps you could do the same, or put it beside the coffee maker or toaster.
2. Use a peak flow meter. If you don't have one, get one. These simple devices measure the condition of your lungs. Monitoring on a daily basis can warn you of an impending attack or reassure you that your condition is improving. My peak flow meter used to be in the bedside cabinet. Never used it. Now it's right beside my inhaler. It sits on top of the graph and small pencil I use to record my results morning and night. If you're thinking this is too much effort, it takes me about three minutes to measure and record my peak flow, then use my inhaler. I do this every day because I put them with my toothbrush. Are you really telling me you cannot get into this simple routine?
3. See a doctor. A recent Canadian survey found that few people discussed managing their asthma with a healthcare professional despite suffering symptoms on a weekly basis. The survey also found that few of these professionals discussed the use of an action plan. Experts agree that education is the best prescription. Use these professionals, and together you can come up with ways to reduce your exposure to whatever triggers your asthma and put together an action plan so you know what to do when your asthma gets worse. If you want to try an alternative therapy they can help you with that too.
4. Visualise success. Believe you can improve your life and reduce the impact of asthma. Every morning and night as you lay in your bed visualise yourself symptom free. Build the vision into your life. You will be clearer about why you are keeping to your resolution and that will pull you forward to success.
So there you have it. Four simple steps to get you back on course. Are you willing to make the effort, or are you prepared to drift for another six months? Do yourself a favor and start now. Go put your medication where you cannot miss it the next time you should take it. Make an appointment to see your doctor. Learn more about asthma. Whatever you decide is the next step you want to take to improve your asthma, go do it now.
By David Kane
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