Stress Management and Why It Matters

As the entire world was closing down due to COVID-19, global stress levels were at an all-time high.1

For the first time during my life (and maybe in history), the whole world was collectively scared, worried, and stressed out about the future of the planet.

In some ways, the collective experience was eye-opening and warming. But, the after-effects of such a shocking and disruptive experience didn’t take long to come into effect.

Worsening symptoms

COVID-19 caused a tremendous amount of stress to build among most of us. My dad lost his Rock Steady Boxing club to the pandemic. And as a result, his physical relationship with Parkinson’s disease began to change. It wasn’t long before he began noticing a correlation between stress and his worsening Parkinson’s symptoms.

It seemed that the more worried, anxious, and stressed that he was, the more those emotions began to appear in his body. Curious about this idea, I began looking at the research to determine if stress worsens symptoms in all Parkinson’s patients or if this is something that is specific to my dad.

What is the correlation?

It turns out that there is a correlation between stress and Parkinson’s. In fact, highly stressful events may contribute to the progression of Parkinson’s. And continued stress may negatively impact many of the motor symptoms that are seen in Parkinson’s like bradykinesia and freezing.2,3

Consistently high levels of stress have been shown to negatively impact the motor function in Parkinson’s patients.3

Minimizing stress

Learning how to minimize and manage psychological stress may offer a viable therapeutic approach to managing Parkinson’s disease. In fact, it could help people with Parkinson’s manage or slow the progression.2,4

Since higher levels of stress may negatively impact those with Parkinson’s, learning how to reduce or eliminate those levels may help us to manage bradykinesia, freezing, and even tremors. Additionally, learning how to manage anxiety may help to deliver similar effects.2,4

Management tools

There are a number of different steps we can take to help to manage stress and anxiety. Investing time and effort in the following types of activities may help to reduce stress and anxiety levels.5

  • Meditation
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Physical activities like walking, or running
  • Gardening
  • Dancing

To manage stress, my dad has adapted to take time and space for himself when he feels himself becoming bridled with anxiety. Sometimes this looks like taking a nap. Other times, he might take a bike ride around the block. And he also commonly allows himself to tune out, and watch a tv program.

I know that when I get stressed out, even though my instinct is to speed up my lifestyle, I actually need to slow down. Taking a walk, hitting the gym, or spending time playing my guitar seems to help me to manage my own stress levels.

I encourage you to consult your physician with questions and concerns regarding stress and Parkinson’s. This should not be interpreted as medical advice.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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