Each year, the month of May is recognized as “Mental Health Awareness Month” – a time to raise awareness and promote mental health. The theme for 2023 has been, “Look Around, Look Within,” with global advocacy efforts focused on how everyone’s surroundings affect mental health and well-being. Renowned organizations like Mental Health America and NAMI have served as excellent resources for anyone looking to learn about mental health. But what if you have questions or concerns about mental health and PF specifically? For instance…

  • Are you having a hard time accepting the ways PF has changed your life?
  • Has it been difficult discussing symptoms, diagnosis, or concerns about the future?
  • Have you ever wondered how others emotionally and psychologically handle the fight against PF?
  • Would you recognize the signs of someone with PF who may be struggling with mental health?
  • Do you know what the research shows about the connection between mental health and PF?

Throughout the entire month of June, we’ll be sharing educational blogs that explore all these questions, and more. In this initial blog post, we’ll set the scene by examining the way surroundings can affect mental health. Whenever we discuss mental health and PF, there are several components to consider:

  1. Safe and Stable Housing

Safe and stable housing is essential for good mental health. It provides a sense of security and stability, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. However, for people living with pulmonary fibrosis, finding suitable housing can be challenging due to a variety of factors (climate, altitude, affordability, accessibility, proximity to health centers, etc). That’s why it’s essential to practice self-care activities, such as keeping records of your symptoms, advocating for yourself at doctor’s appointments, doing things you love like cooking or making art, etc., to help manage stress and anxiety.

2. Healthy Home Environments

Home environments can also play a significant role in our mental health. Keeping your home clean, well-ventilated, and free of allergens or irritants can help reduce symptoms and improve overall well-being. Tips on increasing air quality indoors are here. Additionally, it can be helpful to surround yourself with items that help you feel calm and positive, such as meaningful photos or decorations. However, if you use supplemental oxygen, it’s crucial to be aware of safety tips and be careful not to light candles indoors! Instead, talk to your doctor about whether using essential oils in a diffuser may be a safe alternative for you.

3. Neighborhoods and Community Networks

Feeling connected to community can help improve mental health. Though it’s not always easy or possible to avoid the environmental exposures found in many neighborhoods and towns, there’s always support for you in our virtual network – which reaches over 50 different countries. To surround yourself with supportive community resources, try joining support group, connecting with PF specialists, and attending pulmonary rehab. These interactions can provide a sense of belonging, assistance, and understanding.

4. The Outdoors and Nature

Connecting with nature can be an excellent way to improve mental health. Spending time in parks or bringing plants indoors can provide a sense of calm and connection to nature. Even if your mobility is severely limited due to PF, there are many safe and accessible ways to enjoy nature. To start, try learning more  meditation, yoga, earthing, and other grounding techniques.

Please follow our Facebook page or revisit our blog page throughout the month of June to discover additional ideas. For those living with pulmonary fibrosis, your treatment plan can incorporate both physical and mental health. If you’re a relative, caregiver, or someone else impacted by PF, nurturing your own mental health can increase your capacity for helping others fight PF.

No matter your connection to PF, if you’re taking steps to improve your surroundings but are still struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional or talk to your doctor. You can also take a free, private mental health screening at www.mhascreening.org to help you figure out what is going on and determine next steps.

Stay In Touch

PF Now! hosts two virtual support groups every month. Not only will you strengthen your network of connections but you’ll learn firsthand how those with PF best look after themselves. PF Now! also has a Facebook group whose active community shares their PF journey and their tips with others. New to online support groups? Download our free step-by-step guide for online advocacy here.

Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information received from us.

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