Is Parkinson’s the Culprit for Every Calamity in Life?
Can those of us with Parkinson’s disease blame the condition for all of our trials and tribulations? The quick answer often is “Yes. Absolutely.” However, it’s not always so black and white.
While it’s true that Parkinson’s complicates things, it’s not responsible for every calamity in life. Various circumstances can bring trauma into our lives. Sometimes we come to that conclusion on our own, while other times, we need some help.
Recently, my psychologist told me, “Your Parkinson’s isn’t your biggest problem. The issue is everything else you’ve been dealing with over the past few months.”
What? Something besides Parkinson’s is creating stress in my life? How is that possible?
For me, it didn’t seem possible, but it was true. Looking back, the past few months have been a tough road. I didn’t give enough credit to life’s circumstances and the trauma I experienced as a result. It had all affected me more than I was willing to admit.
Coping with stress, depression, and anxiety
Although they tend to be lesser-known, the nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s, including depression and anxiety, can also greatly affect our daily lives. While both of these symptoms vary from one person to the next, they can often be triggered by other traumatizing or stressful life events. Depression and anxiety are a recipe for stress, which can make symptoms worse.
While many of these events are uncontrollable, how we respond to them can help us manage the stress. As Allan Lokos, founder of the Community Meditation Center in New York City, said, “You cannot control the results, only your actions.”
Medication is one option for managing depression, anxiety, and stress. Therapy can also provide us with ways to cope with these issues. Nowadays, it is offered both in person and virtually, including via telehealth and apps.
Yoga, meditation, music, and relaxation are also ways to practice mindfulness. However, mindfulness requires time and emotional commitments. Allowing ourselves to feel emotions takes courage. But harnessing those emotions can be powerful, providing us strength when we need it the most.
Over the past six years, I’ve been fortunate to have great therapists from whom I’ve learned valuable coping skills. For me, three of the most helpful exercises come from cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of talk therapy that can help you break down patterns of negative thinking and respond to situations more constructively and effectively.
Following are some of the exercises I use. Perhaps you also will find them helpful:
- 4-7-8 Breathing: Slowly breathe in for four counts, hold for seven counts, then breathe out for eight counts. It is a simple way to calm down, reduce stress, and relieve anxiety.
- The Stick in the Ground: When you need to move on from something, put a figurative stick in the ground. From this point, you move forward. You don’t have to forget about the issue, as mentally, you can always return to the stick. But remaining stuck in a painful situation doesn’t benefit you or anyone else in your life.
- The Rule of 3: Say aloud three things that are currently good in your life. They don’t have to be complicated. It can be a sunny day or a good hair day. Express gratitude for the everyday stuff — that’s where life happens!
What are three things you’re grateful for? Share in the comments below, or let us know at the Parkinson’s News Today Forums.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.