Life with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is difficult, but there are more than a few ways to make it easier. We’ve made a list of all the best lifestyle changes that can ease COPD symptoms, from changing up your diet to using humidifiers in your home. Once you’ve taken a look, you’ll have several steps you can take to breathe easier.

Stop Smoking

The most effective change you can make is to quit smoking. While other suggestions on this list can help, there’s nothing worse for COPD than cigarettes. Smoking causes COPD and makes it progress more quickly, too. Plus, it can lead to far worse illnesses.

The good news is that you don’t need to quit cold turkey. Modern medicine has developed dozens of aids, like nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and oral medication. Depending on your healthcare, some of these options may be available for free!

Finally, while “survival rates” are uncomfortable to think about, it’s important to know that smoking may be fatal. In a five-year study, patients who didn’t stop smoking had a far higher mortality rate than those who quit. If you haven’t kicked the habit yet, you should make it your top priority.

Watch What You Eat

Healthy breathing requires a healthy body. People who eat processed foods and junk food are more likely to deal with obesity, which can negatively affect their ability to breathe. Altering your diet to avoid foods high in saturated fats and calories in favor of protein-rich foods like nuts and beans is a no-brainer. Sodium can also get in the way of healthy breathing, so try cutting back on salt.

Changing your diet doesn’t have to mean cutting meat out entirely, but you should consider staying away from red meats and opting for fish or poultry.

Drink More Water and Less Soda

Hydration is key, but drink water, not soda. You should plan to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day—if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces. That might seem like a lot at first, but your body needs it and it’ll help thin your mucus to make breathing easier.

Soda and other carbonated beverages can expand your stomach, which pushes on your diaphragm. This swelling makes breathing more uncomfortable. When coupled with the copious amounts of sugar found in soda, it’s a dangerous recipe.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Oxygen is essential for brain function, so when COPD makes it difficult to take enough in, you may find yourself exhausted much earlier than you used to. Don’t fight that feeling, and don’t increase the caffeine in your diet. Instead, listen to your body. When it feels like you should sleep, go to sleep. This energy conservation will help in the long run and can help you avoid breathlessness.

Avoid Irritants

Many people experience varying COPD “triggers.” Any irritant that makes your COPD flare up is a trigger, so you should do your best to stay away from it. These triggers can range from pollen to cold air, so keep an eye out for situations where you feel your breathlessness mounting and try to avoid those moments in the future.

Clean Regularly

There are a lot of irritants and pathogens floating around dirty houses, so it’s in your best interest to get on a regular cleaning schedule. Dust every few weeks and vacuum afterward. If you’ve stopped smoking and live with someone who hasn’t, encourage them to follow in your footsteps—secondhand smoke is almost as dangerous as smoking yourself.

Use Air Filters and Humidifiers

In addition to cleaning up around the house and using physical means to keep irritants at bay, you can also turn to technology. There are air filters rated to work for rooms of different sizes, so consider purchasing filters for the spaces in which you spend the most time.

These filters pull in visible and invisible particles which would otherwise float in the air, waiting to be breathed in. You’ll want to change the filters regularly, but many people with COPD swear by them and can’t imagine how they ever lived without them.

Air filters aren’t the only high-tech gadget you can invest in! If you live in a dry area or a region that sees cold weather in the winter, you should consider getting a humidifier. This device does just what it sounds like: it increases the humidity in your home.

Breathing in dry air can irritate your nasal passages, while air with the proper moisture content (between 30 and 50 percent) can make breathing much more comfortable.

Try Low-Impact Exercises

Exercise and diet are the two classic “lifestyle changes” that people always discuss, and with good reason! Eating and living healthy go a long way toward improving all other aspects of your life, so don’t neglect either. With COPD, you should look into low-impact exercises. Since workouts are designed to get your heart racing, they can lead to COPD patients breathing heavily, which isn’t the best idea.

Instead, look for workouts that exercise parts of your body without causing breathlessness. You may want to try taking a 30-minute walk each day, starting yoga, or lifting light weights. All these options strike a good balance between staying active and keeping your breath under control.

Prioritize Relaxation

We know, we just told you to exercise! Well, who says you can’t do both? Stress and anxiety are directly linked with hyperventilation, which doesn’t mix well with COPD. Consider adding mindfulness exercises or meditation to your daily routine, both of which help you stay centered and work to manage stress.

Use Oxygen Therapy

Finally, you may want to talk with your doctor about oxygen therapy. Many COPD patients across the country find the greatest relief when taking oxygen, and the best part is, you can do it at home! If you buy an oxygen concentrator machine, you can enjoy deep breaths and tons of health benefits.

Oxygen therapy works by giving you concentrated oxygen, as opposed to the small percentage of the oxygen found in normal air. This super dose of oxygen helps your lungs do their job more effectively and reduces breathlessness while making it easier to do everyday tasks.

Now that you understand these lifestyle changes that can ease COPD symptoms, get ready to experience less stress and improved quality of life.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Ease COPD Symptoms