Bubble featuring self-care elements including bubble bath, journaling, food, dog walking.

Community Views: How Do You Care For Yourself?

For many living with Parkinson’s disease, self-care can often be the last thing we think about. We might be still rushing and pushing ourselves to live life how it was before our diagnosis. But often, people find that that doesn’t work.

Living with Parkinson’s requires change. One change that helps most is to focus on self-care to become aware of which practices actually help you feel good. Once we know what works for us, we can do more of it and start to feel even better.

To learn more about how you are practicing self-care, we reached out on the ParkinsonsDisease.net Facebook page. We asked you to fill in the blank: “I am caring for myself today by __________.”

Almost 40 of you commented, sharing what works for you. Here’s what you said.

“Exercising a bit.”

Focusing on physical exercise can almost always be beneficial. Every time we exercise, we release endorphins, and it also reduces stiffness and increases mobility. It’s believed that riding your bike or doing other similarly challenging cardio exercises can actually limit or stop the progression of Parkinson’s. So, although it may be a hard habit to start, it’s a great goal to work toward. Even if you’re starting with just walking a block or two, every bit helps.

“Taking my meds, eating right, and exercising a bit.”

“Riding my bike!”

“Staying positive.”

We are our thoughts. Staying positive can help us feel better because we are focusing on what’s good about today. Whether it’s that you had a good night of sleep, or that you enjoy spending a few moments with your dog - whatever it is, these happy thoughts can help us feel good. The brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so if we are choosing something happy and healthy, then there is no room to stress or ruminate any pain or possible pain.

“Smiling at ever step I can make.”

“Staying positive.”

“No dwelling on it!”

They call it the ‘monkey mind’ for a reason. Our minds naturally want to dwell on the negative, spinning and spinning and getting nowhere. Anyone who has dwelled on something negative for more than a few minutes has realized how unhelpful this practice is. If you find that you are dwelling on a negative thought - ‘Why me?’ or ‘Why can’t I go back to how I was?’ - then you might be well served to pause. Breathe. If you can, try to remember that you are safe in this moment. That you have everything you need. If possible, try to name a few things you are grateful for. Any of these practices can help lift you out of negative thoughts so you can get back to enjoying your day and experiencing some peace.

“No dwelling on it!”

“Not dwelling on bad outcomes. Just focusing on how to make life better.”

“The grace of God.”

Several of you named your faith as the thing that helps you keep going. Faith can do wonders to restore our sense of peace. For those who don’t already have a faith practice, it’s believed that you can still benefit by asking your friends who do have faith to pray for you. Just knowing that a God or a believer is concerned with our health can be a comfort.

“I am surviving the day only because of God’s helping me get through this PD. There are days I wish that I don’t wake up early in the morning but now that I am going to have a great-grandchild I have much to look forward to.”

“Faith.”

“The grace of God.”

“Just doing my routine.”

Routines do wonders for emotional health. A routine keeps us moving, and action is good for most brains - to keep us focused on the good things, and to feel accomplishment as we move through our day. This isn’t to say you can’t break routine when something special comes up, but it is a good practice to have in place for most days. Routines bring security, comfort, and reassurance to many.

“Getting out of bed.”

“Just doing my routine. Helping my spouse (morning is the most difficult for him), walking the dogs, feeding the dogs and setting up breakfast. Then cleaning up. So on and so on. Day by day fighting this disease and other issues that stem from it.”

We wish to say thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts for this story. It’s our hope that living with Parkinson’s gets easier for you all.

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