Candy, sugar, cookies, cocktails, parties, less sleep, less exercise, shopping, no routine, visiting, traveling and on and on we go. Here are 10 simple things a person with Parkinson’s can do to stay in control of their disease over the Holidays.
1. My number one piece of advice is of course, Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! No excuses. It can be done anywhere; the beach, a garage, a living room, a park, driveway, gym, airport, hallway. I do not take any excuses. We all can fit 20-45 minutes in our day, and we must fit it in our day. We fit in eating junk, we fit in watching TV, we find time for Words with Friends and Facebook. Some days we may have great workout of 45 minutes, and others we may fit in 15 minutes. Whatever it is, make it happen. And make it intense or don’t do it at all because you will be wasting your time. Swirling golf balls in your hand is NOT going to help, or vacuuming the house does not count. You need to do exercises that make you tired (you should be huffing and puffing) and forces the most firing of brain cells possible in a short amount of time. The harder you work, the more the brain fires, the more activity up there, and the better your system will connect everything to make you move better. Remember, PD is a Neurological disease, not a muscular disease, so we must force that part of the brain to work harder. 15 minutes of intense exercise can do the trick. Remember that intensity is a personal data point, we are all different. You need to have the grit to push yourself to work hard. Especially at this time of year when time is limited, make your exercise a part of your day like brushing your teeth. If you don’t do it, you won’t feel good the next day. Make appointments and gatherings around your exercise time. Or, if you must, bump your exercise to a different time that same day, not the next day. I cannot emphasize more how important I think this is to our well being. Exercise has saved my life and I am afraid to stop doing it. Join me in my fear. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
2. Maintain healthy meals, even when guests and family are around and eating at set times gets harder to maintain. Take care of yourself. Since taking medication and eating is often interrelated, treat yourself with special concern and try to stay focused.
3. And, while we are on the subject of food….fill yourself up with healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, protein, complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, brown rice, salads). Try to not let yourself forget to eat for 5 hours while shopping then end up eating a huge cinnamon bun at the mall. That one bun with all its sugar and fat will inevitably, make you tired and not feeling on top of your game.
4. Take the opportunity to go for walks with family and friends. The local track is a great place to go and walk on very flat surfaces. Walking and talking while on the track can be incredibly invigorating. Beaches and boardwalks are also great places to go with a crowd or a single friend.
5. Show your family and friends the exercises that you enjoy and have learned in your exercise classes! Demonstrate your boxing moves. Get the family involved and be the teacher and have everyone learn and practice punches and kicks (no contact!!!) (10 minutes of this will elevate your heart rate, increase circulations and make you smile….I promise!).
6. Plan your holiday cheats and enjoy them to the fullest!! A cup of coffee and pecan pie after lunch, eggnog and apple cider, delicious Christmas cookies, holiday pies and cakes. Really, the holidays come around only once a year. Plan and enjoy your special foods to the utmost. Sit down, have some warm drink along with the sweet and savor every single bite.
7. Breathe!!! 10 calm breaths in a quiet place can calm and focus you when around the commotion of family and friends.
8. Gratitude. Yes, we have Parkinson’s Disease!! Maybe even a few more health challenges as well. However, there are millions of small and large biological and chemical reactions going on in your body every minute of every day….THAT ARE GOING RIGHT!! Let’s be thankful for the miracle that our bodies are!
9. Be thankful you have Parkinson’s. It could be worse. We all get something in life. This is what has been given to us. Accept it and make the best of it.
10, Keep praying and believing that a Cure is right around the corner. Everyday of my life is one day closer to that Glory Day. Everyday I pray for all my PD friends to stay healthy until that day comes when we can all feel “normal” again. Oh, that will be one Glorious Day, don’t you think?
Good Luck this season with staying healthy. I wish you all the Healthiest and Happiest 2019!