Article by Pam O’Connor. With Summer now in full swing we bring you some great tips and ideas to support the management of your lymphoedema.
Summer is a tough time for most lymphies as the heat usually makes our swelling worse. But as this summer approaches, it presents even more of a challenge in these COVID-19 times.
The restrictions, isolation and lockdowns of a global pandemic has led to more emphasis on the importance of self-management of our lymphoedema, even more so in our tropical Queensland climate.
To help you keep our cool this summer and manage your chronic condition during Coronavirus, we look to The Lymphie Life’s blog for 5 top tips and adapt these for Queenslanders:
1. Create a routine – and stick to it.
Routines can help you foster and maintain a sense of purpose. During this time of uncertainty and disruption, keeping a routine can be especially grounding.
Create a routine around your lymphoedema treatment. Schedule it into your diary. Block out time to do your self-lymphatic drainage, pumping, dry brushing and exercising. Just like you do with your appointments to see your lymphoedema therapist.
Life doesn’t always go according to plan so don’t get too hung up about it: like everything in life, a healthy balance is key. If you don’t get to it today, get on to it tomorrow.
2. Make time for movement.
We all know exercise is good for our overall health, both mentally and physically, but it’s even more crucial for lymphies. Lymph fluid relies heavily on muscle contractions to help move it along.
If you’re new to exercise, it’s important to start slowly with gentle exercise and progress gradually. Get outdoors and enjoy our beautiful Sunshine State. Take care to avoid the midday sun and don’t forget your hat, sunscreen and insect repellent. Head to the pool if you can – it’s a fantastic way to cool off as well as exercise without wearing compression and it’s like having a manual lymphatic drainage.
If you don’t want to head outside for your exercise, there are plenty of other options you can do at home. Look up YouTube for exercises such as yoga or join an online fitness class.
If your mobility is restricted, seek advice from your lymphoedema therapist on how to modify your exercise.
3. Adapt your environment.
We’re all spending more time at home lately so we might as well make it comfortable. Create a lymphie-friendly space. Set up an “elevation station” for your affected limb/s, for example, using leg rests or pillows. Keep your environment cool with air-conditioning or fans, using cooling gel packs or chill towels in the fridge.
If you’re working from home, use a foot rest if you have lower extremity lymphoedema, but also get up and move around often if you can. For upper extremity lymphoedema, make sure your desk is set up ergonomically to support your arms. Don’t forget your deep diaphragmatic breathing as well.
4. Lean on your support system.
You may be experiencing increased feelings of anxiety, loneliness, sadness and anger. Sometimes this can be overwhelming. Be proactive in managing these feelings by reaching out and connecting with your support system.
This is where the Lymphoedema Association of Queensland comes in, offering support within our Queensland lymphie-strong community.
The LAQ offers support group catch ups from Brisbane to Bundaberg and beyond. Visit www.lymphqld.org/events for our current events. If there’s none near you, why not host a meeting? The LAQ can help you to set up an event and reach out to others in your area.
You can also join in the many online lymphoedema groups. The LAQ is also on Facebook and Instagram and you can post questions or topics on the LAQ private Facebook group, Lymphoedema Queensland. If you can’t be face-to-face with your loved ones, then reach out with a video chat (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or simply
5. Do something fun and engaging.
Now is the time to explore hobbies or interests you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time to before. Challenge yourself to take up something new or to simply do something different. A change is as good as a holiday and will give you a fresh perspective when managing a chronic condition starts getting you down.
To help get you going, why not challenge yourself to declutter one room at a time and donating things you no longer need. Then do something fun, such as learning new skills through a free online course, or experimenting with cooking an exotic recipe. If it’s simply too hot in the kitchen for cooking, then head to the couch to elevate your legs and take a virtual tour to somewhere you’ve never been before – Antarctica sounds cool and inviting.
Lymphoedema Association of Queensland (LAQ) was founded in 1989 with the aim of raising awareness of the condition. A membership-based organisation, LAQ is the trusted resource those with lymphoedema turn to for support when seeking to achieve a better quality of life. Join the LAQ Community and become a Member today!
General Advice Warning: This blog is not designed to replace professional advice. It has been prepared without taking into account your medical situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice, in light of your own health objectives and needs before making any decision as to what is appropriate for you.