30 Days of Parkinson’s: My Garden Sanctuary Helps Me Cope

30 Days of Parkinson’s: My Garden Sanctuary Helps Me Cope
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Photo courtesy of Dr. C.

Day 7 of 30

Dr. C is a research theoretician, brain rehabilitation clinician, and college professor. This is his story:

Managing Parkinson’s disease symptoms is a full-time job. Every day is an exercise in mindfulness, positive thinking, and using as much of my brain and body as possible. However, like most with this disease, there are bad days. Attending to my garden sanctuary helps me cope.

Gardening is often recommended as the “best” activity for people who have difficulty exercising due to physical limitations. My body doesn’t respond well when moving to a specific location or negotiating tight spaces (motor sequencing problems). Gardening helps, giving me the opportunity to slow down, regularly exercise, and create a beautiful sanctuary. Creativity and the beauty of nature increase dopamine production, thus helping Parkinson’s management.   

Progress in the garden is about showing up each day. It’s not about getting everything done in one day. The seasonality of gardening suggests the next task. Spring is for walkabouts and enjoying the birth of flowers from last year’s fall bulb planting. Spring also includes the light exercise of raking and trimming.

In summer, the sanctuary is carpeted in blooms as they flourish in the warmer temperatures — and there’s always weeding. The cooler days of autumn add new colors to the gardens, and additional plantings to enhance the early spring burst of color. Winter gives me time to reflect upon the gardens, taking time to slow down and use the time for large writing projects, like my book “Possibilities with Parkinson’s.”  

To everything, there is a season. My Parkinson’s symptoms respond well to the mindful movements of raking, planting, and harvesting, adjusted each day and to seasonal demands. Setting aside projects for winter, yet being so grateful for a short winter, helps me survive the longing desire for my sanctuary while flowers are sleeping. Parkinson’s is much easier to manage when I’m gardening and writing.

Note: Dr. C writes the “Possibilities with Parkinson’s” column for Parkinson’s News Today. 

Parkinson’s News Today’s 30 Days of Parkinson’s campaign will publish one story per day for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPAR, or go here to see the full series. 

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