Breathing Space Spring 2020

Long before social distancing, it was estimated that Canadians were spending up to 90% of our time indoors. That number may climb even higher now that we are encouraged to stay home in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Whether we are retired, serving as caregivers, working remotely, or continuing to work in essential service positions, the comfort and safety of our homes is more important than ever. This makes “home” the perfect theme for our Spring 2020 Breathing Space newsletter.

Lung health starts now – and it starts in living rooms across Canada.

Give your space a fresh start

The air you breathe plays a major role in your overall lung health. When the itch to do some spring cleaning hits, look out for these common household flare-up triggers and lung irritants, and take action.

Need more ideas about reducing your exposure to asthma or COPD triggers and irritants? Speak to a Certified Respiratory Educator through our Lung Health Line: 1-888-344-LUNG (5864).

Dust is airborne, but it settles on surfaces like shelves, window treatments, carpets and more. Minimize objects that accumulate dust, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter frequently. If possible, have another household member vacuum. Afterwards, wait twenty minutes before using the room again.

Dust mites

Dust mites are microscopic creatures that feed on the flakes of skin that people and pets shed daily. Dust mites cannot be totally eliminated, but vacuuming frequently and encasing mattresses and pillows in dust-mite resistant covers can help.

Mould spores

The best way to control indoor mould growth is to control moisture. Try to maintain a relative humidity level below 50% — a hygrometer is a useful and inexpensive device for measuring and monitoring indoor humidity levels. Repair leaks and moisture problems promptly, reduce clutter and remove carpeting in humid areas, use a de-humidifer in your basement, and promote good air circulation with fans.

Smoke (and second-hand smoke)

Smoke is bad news for breathing, whether it’s from tobacco or cannabis products. Never allow smoking in your home or car. If you smoke, take it outside — and when you’re ready, call the Lung Health Foundation for help quitting.

Scented products

The chemicals in scented products attach themselves to hair, clothing, and your surroundings. Choose unscented personal care and cleaning products whenever possible. Maintain adequate ventilation when using products that can irritate your lungs, or enlist the help of a household member. Never use scented air fresheners!

Cleaning the house

A COPD-friendly home workout

Fitness for Breath is now online! Did you know that the Lung Health Foundation has a free online Fitness for Breath course? Click here to try it out. Take your time, and don’t forget to stretch! We hope that you can join us at an in-person Fitness for Breath location when we resume.

Elderly woman uses weights for exercise

Inhaler technique check-up

Are you using your device properly?

It is important to learn how to properly use your medication inhalation devices so that you get the right dose of medication to your lungs. Our inhaler videos cover a variety of device types, and the Certified Respiratory Educators who staff our Lung Health Line can help, too.

Keeping your symptoms under control can help you reduce your risk of a hospital visit, which is more important than ever.

Pollen season is back!

From backyards to balconies, this common asthma trigger is back.

There are things you can do to limit your pollen exposure while still enjoying your home’s outdoor spaces:

  • When pollen is peaking, keep windows closed in your home and car
  • Dry your laundry indoors to prevent pollen from sticking to your linens and clothing
  • Check pollen reports online and plan your outdoor activities accordingly. Pollen levels tend to be highest in the morning hours.
  • Since air pollution can increase the negative health effects of pollen, limit outdoor activities on days with high pollution levels. Check your local Air Quality Health Index at
  • If possible, people allergic to pollen should not cut the lawn. Grass pollen frequently peaks in the early summer.
  • If you’ve been outside during peak pollen season, take a shower to wash the pollen from your skin and hair and change into new clothes.
A man sneezes into his elbow

Please Sneeze Responsibly

ACHOO! At this time of year, sneezing is inevitable for many of us living with seasonal allergies.

Sneezing into the crook of your arm is preferable to sneezing into your hands because it reduces the spread of germs. Always dispose of your tissues right away, and wash your hands frequently.

Make working from home work for you

When you are working remotely, you can be so focused on the tasks at hand that you can forget to take a breather. It is very important for your health to take a break every so often. Not only will a break boost your productivity and mood, it will reduce the strain on your eyes from digital screens.

  • Here are some great (and simple) ways to take a breather throughout the day:
  • Take a walk during your coffee or lunch break.
  • Try some desk stretches.
  • Move your body! You can try our easy at-home Fitness for Breath workout
  • Experiment with meditation, yoga, or breathing exercise like the one below.

Break time? Try pursed lip breathing

Pursed lip breathing allows you to breathe out slowly, exhaling more air, and leaving less air trapped inside your lungs. Try to breathe out (exhale) twice as long as you breathe in (inhale). It can be helpful to count to two as you inhale and to four as you exhale.
The benefits of pursed lip breathing include:
  • Reduces breathing frequency and shortness of breath
  • Helps you return to your normal breathing pattern after exercise
  • Improves your ability to perform different activities
  • Increases your sense of control over your own breathing
Detailed instructions on performing pursed lip breathing

Teach your kids about germs

Chances are, the children in your life need a handwashing technique check-up. Start your lesson with the fun experiment above.

Frequent and thorough handwashing is an easy and effective way to limit the spread of viruses, from the common cold, to the flu, to COVID-19. Make sure that your whole family is doing it properly.

An elderly man

You’re not alone in this. Let us help.

The COVID-19 pandemic is real, and it can be frightening. The amount of information coming at us daily is overwhelming and for many people this is something never before experienced.

The uncertainty around the virus, our personal risk, the risk to our loved ones and not knowing when all of this will end can bring about feelings of fear, anxiety and sadness. There is no right or wrong way to feel in situations like this.
For people living with a lung disease, the stakes are particularly high right now. Lung disease already brings with it loss that can affect every part of a person’s life. For many, it affects the ability to work, travel, socialize and participate in leisure and physical activities. It also affects relationships with family and friends, independence, finances and emotional well-being.

People who already experience some anxiety or feelings of loneliness and isolation may find their symptoms worsening right now. It’s important to be kind to yourself. We are living within extraordinary circumstances and it is a stressful time for everyone, so it’s okay if you feel a bit more anxious than usual, and it’s definitely okay to take time for yourself to manage your mental and emotional health.

Luckily, we are not without options:

  1. Be sure to get enough SLEEP – Sleep is important for mind, body and mood. Sleep allows our bodies to repair themselves, ensures we are able to think clearly and helps to maintain a positive mood. Insufficient sleep has been linked to an increased risk in falls, cognitive decline, irritability and increased stress.
  2. Be sure to eat HEALTHY FOOD – Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is not only good for our physical health as it reduces the risk of certain illnesses, it also helps to boost our mood. Eating less processed foods and less sugar and replacing those with more vegetables and whole foods will help manage anxiety levels, perception of stress and improve our mental outlook and overall mood.
  3. Try to be ACTIVE / EXERCISE – Being active and finding ways to exercise is a critical influence to our mental health. The activity you choose to do (walking, dancing, other gentle activities) is far less important than simply doing something active each day. Regardless of your age or fitness level, exercise can help to make you feel more energetic, improve your memory, sleep better at night and boost your overall mood.
  4. CONNECT with others – Even in times of social distancing, reaching out to family and friends by phoning, emailing or using Facebook and other social media tools can help make us feel connected and less isolated. Friendships and other social connections provide us with much needed feelings of belonging and self-worth and help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
  5. Find something you that bring you JOY – Reading, painting, singing, puzzles – whatever it is that brings you joy, now is the time to do it. Hobbies help to structure our time, they keep our mind alert and functioning, and they allow us to focus on something other than the worries and stresses of our life. Hobbies often lead to more social connections, so they can be a win-win!
The Lung Health Foundation is here for you, today and always. Call our Lung Health Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864), and we will be pleased to assist you in way we can.