Live in the Moment and Live Well
When I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD), I thought I would never feel joy, friendship, love, or mastery again. I dwelled on things I could not change and wasted precious energy evaluating the future or yearning for the past.
But there is another option. We can choose to plant our feet firmly in the present. Four years later, I am strong, capable, and confident. Despite my diagnosis.
Focusing on the present
I made this shift when I realized the present offers clarity. I am not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. I am in the here and now. I enjoy my day and thrive despite the challenges of Parkinson's.
Now I commit to doing something each day that gives me joy and supports my health and personal priorities. With this mindset, I worry far less about the future or the past. I am alive in the today.
To stay on track, I listed exercises and activities that I enjoy and then grouped them into the following categories: Cognitive development, physical engagement, and mental health. I call them the mind, body, and soul. Here are activities I enjoy and feel satisfaction by doing. Let’s start with the Mind.
Activities for the mind
As we know, Parkinson's is a disease of the brain. It is vital that we challenge our brains deliberately. There are many ways to give our minds a workout. The options are truly endless. Here is a quick list.
- Games/Novel Activities – strategy, memory, and cognition
- Do crossword puzzles and word searches
- Play strategy games - Mancala, Scrabble, Words with Friends
- Watch birds or start a bird feeder in your backyard
- Play memory games
- Use a map to select a route to a restaurant
Fine Motor Skills
These activities challenge your agility, hand strength, and confidence.
- Trace a design with a pen
- Make a chain of paperclips
- Bounce a small ball and catch it
- Throw a ball with your friend or child
- Sew with a needle and thread
- Try Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy to improve gait, balance, strength, and more
Exercise for PD
Exercise habits are essential to PD management. "The Parkinson’s Outcomes Project shows that people with PD who start exercising earlier and complete a minimum of 2.5 hours a week, experience a slowed decline in quality of life compared to those who start later."1
Aerobic activity includes strength training, balance, agility, and multitasking. Research has shown that exercise can improve gait, balance, tremor, flexibility, grip strength, and motor coordination.1
Try some of these body activities:
- Try pole walking
- Bounce a ball. Throw a ball with a friend
- Ride a bike or stationary bike
- Walk around your neighborhood
- Do vocal exercises
Focus on the soul
Here are some suggested activities for the soul:
- Put a few plants in a pot and watch them grow
- Tai Chi
- Walkthrough a forest, visit a park or arboretum
- Volunteer with an organization you care about/li>
- Call a friend from college or high school
- Jot down something you are grateful for every day
When I have joy in my day, I don’t worry about the future or dwell on the past, I'm working on the here and now and all the ways I thrive.
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