Last year I received so many lovely gifts for my birthday and Christmas; a cinnamon scented broom to hang in my kitchen, strong scented candles and perfume. All gifts that I appreciated, but unfortunately couldn’t enjoy (or keep) because they triggered my asthma.
- Think soft and warm. It’s cold inside and out. Breathing in cold air makes our lungs hurt, and sometimes just feeling cold will worsens symptoms. Consider a gift that provides comfort and warmth; a soft scarf to wrap loosely around our mouth and nose to warm the air we breathe, a blanket to snuggle under while watching movies on the sofa, or even a heating pad to help ease the pain from sore muscles due to coughing will be welcomed gifts.
- Show some asthma pride. Asthmatics are warriors. We fight daily just to breathe. Give us a gift that celebrates our fighting spirit! The asthma awareness ribbon (the ribbon is usually gray, but the CDC asthma ribbon is blue) can be found on items from coffee mugs to t-shirts. Or, choose an item with an empowering or fun statement such as, “Breathing is my superpower. What’s yours?” or “I beat asthma every day,” or something more fun such as “It ain’t easy being wheezy.” Websites such as Zazzle and Café Press are a good place to find asthma-related gifts. Etsy is great place to find unique, attractive and customizable medic alert jewelry that we actually want to wear.
- In-home salon treatment. We all deserve a little pampering, but it’s hard to go to the salon or spa if you’re triggered by strong scents. Instead, bring the spa into the privacy of your own home. Hire a licensed, certified massage therapist that has experience in massaging clients with asthma, and request they use (or provide) scent-free oil and candles. Haircuts and manicures can also be challenging due to the strong odors in salons. Finding a qualified stylist or manicurist that will make house calls would also be a thoughtful gift.
- Donate to a lung-friendly organization. Donating to organizations that are working to improve the lives of those living with asthma shows that you are willing to be part of the ‘asthma solution.’ There are many non-profits that raise awareness and dollars to fund research, education, direct services and support. There are plenty of ways to give; donate money or time by participating in special events, or by volunteering on event planning committees or advisory boards. Advocate for affordable medications and health care, smoke-free legislation or clean air. A few of my favorite organizations to consider supporting include the American Lung Association, Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, and Asthma & Allergy Network.
- Understanding and compassion. Having a disease that makes breathing difficult is just plain hard. We may tire more easily than our friends. The medications we take to stay alive have some unpleasant side effects like weight gain and mood swings. We get frustrated with the constant management of symptoms, repeated doctor appointments and tests, and on and on. The best gift you can give is understanding and compassion. Understand that we often feel overwhelmed. Be compassionate when we can’t keep every commitment. All we need is for you to understand that we are trying.
What asthma-friendly gifts would you like to receive this holiday season?
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