Let’s Make 2023 the Year of ‘Me’
Practicing self-care is crucial for people with Parkinson's disease
Now that we are in the first week of January, how’s your New Year’s resolution going so far?
Many of us with young-onset Parkinson’s disease have already spent years caring for our families at the time we’re diagnosed. Then we must also do our best to manage our own health and the challenges of a chronic disease that most others our age don’t understand.
As a result, taking care of ourselves may not be high on the priority list. We just don’t have time, so our New Year’s resolutions are in the rearview mirror by Jan. 3.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. As an article in Forbes suggests, we can ensure our resolutions succeed by acknowledging our current behavior and understanding why it needs to change.
That change can start with making 2023 the year of “me.” You might be thinking, “That’s selfish. I can’t do that.” But consider it this way: Making yourself a priority is not a guilty pleasure. It’s a type of self-preservation that may be long overdue. Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of others, too.
How to practice self-care
Take a massage, for example. For some, it’s a form of pampering. However, for many with Parkinson’s disease, a massage is a tool for managing both motor and nonmotor symptoms. It can ease anxiety while reducing rigidity and muscle tension. A long, hot shower may be a good alternative if a massage isn’t an option.
A bonus of massage is its pal, meditation. These won’t go hand in hand if you and your massage therapist like to chat. That part is entirely up to you, but I recommend using the time to focus on your breathing. Maximize the benefits of the relaxation you managed to fit into your schedule.
Afterward, when pouring yourself into the car, ask yourself, “Was everyone and everything OK without me for a whole hour?” I’d guess that the chaos of your life waited for you. It may not have even known that you left it for a while.
For many of us with Parkinson’s, exercise is part of our care plan. Think of it as a “medicine” your doctor has prescribed.
Finding time to exercise isn’t optional. It also doesn’t have to be a three-hour workout you do five days a week. It shouldn’t be. Parkinson’s News Today‘s Steve Bryson noted in a 2021 article that the recommended exercise regimen for Parkinson’s patients is “150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate to vigorous exercise per week across four domains: aerobic activity; strength training; balance/agility/multitasking; and stretching.”
But note that all exercise programs should be cleared by your medical care team and ideally started under the supervision of a trainer or physical therapist. A Parkinson’s-specific program that incorporates the four domains can provide a safe and judgment-free zone that leads to friendships. You are influenced by the people you surround yourself with, so spend time with people who have similar challenges so you can face them together.
Learning about nutrition can be fun and beneficial to your health. Try a cooking class; by learning how to cook healthily, you are helping your entire family. Learn to read ingredient labels, make good choices, and pass that knowledge on to your family. If a cooking class is intimidating, try a new healthy recipe at home each week.
Exercise, meditation, and nutrition are prescriptions for a healthier you, a healthier family, and, ultimately, a better quality of life. And I know it sounds crazy, but you’ll get there by making 2023 the year of “me.”
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.