Balancing Emotions When You Have Parkinson's
I showed my favorite boomerang to a friend the other day. It features a flat side and a rounded one. This form allows it to function as a wing. The goal when throwing a returning boomerang is for it to fly up and away before circling back. I found myself thinking about other things we send out into the world that, like a boomerang, return to us.
Outcomes of your emotions
What do boomerangs and emotions have in common? The premise of one book on my shelf, Boomerang Joy,is that the emotions you send out lead to the responses you receive from others.1 When you send out positive emotions, then positive reactions occur. Healthwise, positive emotions may lower your blood pressure, lead to a good mood, and reduce stress.2
When you send out negative emotions, negative reactions may come back. Be aware that you suffer, along with those around you, if you consistently send out negative vibes. People may even begin avoiding you, leading to loneliness. This may already be a concern due to the current social distancing situation. Living with ever-present negativity may cause you to experience elevated blood pressure, anxiety, and anger.2
Self-awareness and Parkinson’s
Several research studies have suggested that dopamine is involved in processing emotions but there is more to learn about its direct and indirect effects in this regard.3 This led me to wonder whether someone’s wavering dopamine level contributes to their ability, or inability, to manage emotional expression. Can a Person with Parkinson's (PwP) learn to self-identify a negative emotion and change it to a more positive one?
There are, however, many PwP who seem happy and can express joy even while living with PD. They may sometimes express negative emotions, but they often look for a silver lining. They are self-aware and can self-manage their emotions. This bolsters their positive outlook.
Balancing the positive and negative
Emotional intelligence is described as a person’s ability to be aware of and control how they express their emotions. There are several models of emotional intelligence, all of which seek to provide a framework for how we process our emotional responses.
Self-awareness and self-management along with social awareness and relationship management are four common components of emotional intelligence.4
Persons who are emotionally well are aware of their emotions and work to balance positive and negative emotions. One sign of emotional wellness is the ability to focus on positive feelings and seek the good in situations.
It appears that these people can bounce back from difficult situations faster than others. This resilience helps sustain emotional wellness and extends to social wellness by engaging with others in positive ways.2
Tips to support good vibes
- Balance negative and positive emotions.
- Turn negative emotions into something positive. Pollyanna may be considered a book/movie for kids, but if you never saw it or it has been a long time, I recommend you watch it.
- Recognize positive and negative self-talk. If you hear repeated internal conversations where you put yourself down as stupid, incapable, or worthless, try building yourself up with “I can do this.” Or “I can do this. It just may take a little longer.”
- Exercise. Any movement you can perform is better than no movement. Read about exercise, dopamine and endorphins. That might motivate you.
- Engage in mindful practices. Try prayer, meditation, relaxation techniques (stress management), art, music, or yoga.
- Give grace. Try the “count to ten” practice. Use that time to think about what, if any, reaction needs to occur in regard to what has just been said or done that upset you.
- Be kind. I write encouraging notes, paint kindness rocks and “hide” them around town, cook or bake for someone, or call a friend instead of texting.
In summary: Make it a daily goal to send out good vibes and enjoy what comes back to you.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to PD?