Good Days, Bad Days: Could It Be My Attitude?
Almost all of us who have Parkinson’s experience good days and bad days. Focusing on how I feel physically doesn’t consider all the elements impacting my days.
Depression, isolation, and apathy, added to the physical symptoms, creates quite a nasty cocktail. Throw in attitude, and "bad days" can take on a whole new meaning.
What about attitude? Well, it’s complicated ... Typically, attitudes are favorable or unfavorable; positive or negative. And, they have 3 components: an affective component (feelings), a behavioral component (the effect of the attitude on behavior), and a cognitive component (belief and knowledge).1
There are multiple factors that can determine our attitude. For example, we may form our attitude based on our personal experiences, through learning, or observing the people around us.2
Driving my behavior
My attitude tends to drive my behavior and is as central part of my ability to determine positive and negative feelings about a time frame, event, or happening. My belief system is, in part, based on my attitude.
I have been tracking my good, normal, and bad days, and noticed that my attitude or mood - not my physical symptoms or depression, anxiety, or apathy - determined whether I thought the day was good, bad, or average.
If I’m in a bad mood or my attitude is negative, I consider it a bad day no matter the state of my symptoms. If I'm in a good mood, I consider it a good day no matter the state of my symptoms.
Tracking my days has helped me realize that I can’t ever have a good day if I’m in a bad mood or if my attitude is negative.
Shifting my mood
While tracking my days, I’ve identified some tactics that help transform bad days into good ones. I hope they work for you as well. If you are depressed or anxious, consider seeking professional help. Talk to your doctor and ask for a referral to a therapist.
Making a list of of the positives in your life helps and can be a form of meditation. Accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative. As the old song goes, appreciate what you have and don’t focus on what you don’t have. Easy to say but hard to do.
Recognize that you are more than your disease. Work hard to discover the "you" that existed before your diagnosis. While you may have Parkinson's and it may limit you, the you that matters is still there. Thinking of yourself as different from the symptoms helps improve your mood and attitude.
Fight negativity and isolation. Seek out activities that give you pleasure such as exercise, listening to music, and socializing with friends—all of which help combat apathy and depression.
For me, spending time with my family, participating in group exercise, walking my dog, meeting with other Parkinson’s patients, and writing helps me stay positive.
Express gratitude. Enjoy what you have and appreciate every experience. Demonstrate acts of kindness as often as possible. They will make you feel happier and develop a more positive attitude.
Extend hope in your life. Hope can be as much about anticipating that each day is a good one versus hoping researchers will find a cure for our disease. Hope is putting yourself out there and having higher expectations. Hope contributes to a better feeling.
Celebrate the good days
Identify the good days. Define what makes a day good for you and try to do those things—exercise, meet with friends, cuddle with your dog, eat a good meal on the bad and average days.
To reinforce the benefit of good days, be sure to celebrate them with your care partner, family, and friends.
These tactics aren’t fool-proof, but trying them consistently might just result in more good days than bad.
Have you or a loved one ever tried speech therapy?