Breathe Easy, feel the benefits

The British Lung Foundation has a network of 230 Breathe Easy groups scattered around the UK, and earlier this week, we along to a local group to find out more about what they do.

Nottingham West is one of the UK’s most active Breathe Easy groups who meet monthly to enjoy a social occasion with a purpose. Gathering in a peaceful corner of Eastwood, around 40+ people attend to enjoy a fish and chip lunch, some tea and cake, and a chance to listen to the latest thinking on how to enjoy a fuller, healthier life, living with a serious breathing condition.

Neil’s been attending this group for a couple of years, and knows many of the group personally, many of whom are SoeMac users. Within minutes, Neil was invited to go outside to admire a classic sports car! Boys, toys….

This month it was the turn of Kathy Scott, a Therapist for the Let’s Talk Wellbeing service, to talk to the group about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a treatment to help manage the psychological impacts of living with a condition such as COPD. She highlighted the effect of one condition in particular, anxiety.

It’s something that many of us are all too familiar with in our lives, but at it’s peak, the symptoms can be very alarming and distressing to anyone who fights for breath. Anxiety itself is not life threatening, but during the moments when the anxious feelings are building, it can be very distressing indeed. Kathy outlined the services that are available and how they can help, and it’s all within easy reach for many people in the group, who have already seen the benefits of CBT, including practical things“to do” such as calming their breath.

Teresa, the group’s co-organiser, demonstrated how to practise “belly breathing” and invited us all to try it out. It’s easy to feel the immediate calming benefits, as the body draws oxygen in more deeply, quickly alleviating the feelings of panic that come with an anxiety attack. It made us all laugh too, always a bonus! Teresa went on to share some of the latest findings about the benefits of joining an Integrated Breathe Easy group - for example, members of these groups show a 42% reduction in unplanned GP visits, and a staggering 57% reduction in emergency in hospital admissions across the UK.

So how does this happen? Well, as a guest, it was easy to see during our visit - the group is friendly, informative, welcoming, and there’s opportunity to have an informal conversation with a trained respiratory nurse who regularly attends (this is the ‘integrated’ part), which can be easier than waiting in a GP’s surgery.

Most crucially, the group helps everyone to feel like they’re not alone with their illness; there’s a strong sense that “we’re in this together”.

To find a group near you, visit the British Lung Foundation website