For those of us who live with a chronic illness like PD by now I am sure you have discovered as I have that stress whether physical, emotional, or physiological can have a detrimental effect on our mood and on our symptoms. It is for this reason that many people with PD feel as if they have fluctuating symptoms on a daily basis despite the fact that Parkinson’s is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disease.
Learning to deal with stress and finding ways to prevent it in a healthy fun way can lead us to a happier more balanced life. Subsequently, by managing our stress we may be able to experience less ups and downs with our already complicated illness.
The first thing we can do to improve our tension levels is listening to music – but not just any music. A specific type of music like baroque which is characterized for the most part by 60 beat per minute tempo also known as ‘larghetto’ not too fast and not too slow – in fact just right.
This coincides with the rhythm of our hearts at a calm state because in fact some scientists believe that a heart rate of 75 and greater, which was considered within normal range in the past, carries a higher risk of having a heart attack.
Not only will this tempo relax us by calming and synchronizing our breathing with our heart rhythm but will also improve blood flow to our brains. Subsequently, this may be one of the reasons listening to this type of music increases our concentration. As we all know, poor concentration is a big issue in those of us with Parkinson’s – part of it could be that we are so run down we don’t even process the information around us. But being totally stressed can also play a major role. Multiple studies have shown that music with 60 beat per minute causes an immediate sense of well-being and even boosts our IQ levels. This was seen on subjects tested while listening to baroque music. Moreover, when we feel relaxed, we are more prone to have a positive outlook. A positive outlook on life is everything, I always say. When we have a bright outlook makes more likely to consider all the alternatives giving us more sound judgement avoiding rush decisions. I know personally when I am tired or in pain, I don’t want to be bothered with details or complex decisions. Sometimes when I find myself in these situation, I tend to rush to an answer without considering consequences fully leading to more problems down the road. I have learned not to make any important decisions including filling out paper work which is vital. However, if baroque music is not your cup of tea then find music that appeals to you but with similar tempo.
Secondly, laughter is a great stress reliever. We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine. Not only does laughter strengthen our immune system but is a great coping mechanism to relieve pressure. I often say that I laugh because it beats the alternative. Because laughter plays such a crucial role in healing, many scientists have looked at laughter to assess its benefits and effects on tension. Interestingly, laughter decreases stress differently in men and women confirming once again that gender is a crucial topic we must take into account when prescribing treatments for various illnesses. In men laughing actually decreases the stress directly by dissipating the distress. However, this does not occur in women, rather by laughing we women gain insight into a situation which then helps us cope better with the stressful factors. Despite differing mechanisms, the end result is the same – we both feel better with a good laugh. Go ahead find some friends and laugh or simply learn to laugh at your own mishaps as I have. You will feel better, I guarantee.
Thirdly, painting– I have never been much of an artist. However, even though I still am far from considering myself as any good at painting I have discovered that you don’t have to be good at something to derive pleasure from it. You don’t even have to paint your own art work rather simply fill in the colors of someone else drawing to feel the benefits. I think that this is why coloring has become so popular. We remember the pleasure coloring as children, well as an adult I have regained that same sense of accomplishment when coloring a drawing turning into my own masterpiece. Art therapy in all is forms is something I have fully embraced over the last decade as a useful alternative therapy to dealing with neurological diseases for many reasons. One of which is a sense of empowerment one achieves through the use of colors, and creativity. Moreover, painting and other art therapy can not only provide a momentary distraction; but it also relaxes the mind when you set everything else aside and focus on the task at hand. Besides being fun, it is a great coping mechanism through which emotions can be effectively worked out releasing anger, anguish, and frustration with a few strokes.
Fourthly, enjoy nature / green – when I was a young girl living in Mexico, my grandmother always used to say to my grandfather that she needed to go out to the woods to look at the trees and the greenery around. She would get so excited every time she saw how green everything was. Well, it turns out my grandmother was wiser than most. Subconsciously, she knew that seeing green or being surrounded by nature provides an excellent calming effect on the brain and body. Since green is a color reminiscent of nature, spring, growth, peace, and financial prosperity is believed to diffuse anxiety and have a calming effect by producing a harmonious sense of well-being. Being surrounded by green forests, trees also improves concentration and clarity increasing creativity by actually improving our brain waves. Improves reading ability …perhaps that’s why I and many feel so alive in spring when everything is blooming. I guess, I inherited my grandmother’s intuition because my writing room is green (pale yellow greens and beige greens are the most soothing). In 2010, a study in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine found that a stroll in the woods versus the same time spent strolling in the city had a greater impact of decreasing stress hormones like cortisol and lowering blood pressure. This simple fact, maybe why I like Central Park strolls or near parks in the city and in the woods like my grandmother.
Go ahead start decluttering your life and getting rid of unwanted tensions and preventing worsening of symptoms due to stress by using one of these simple methods of relieving tension in your life. I have celebrated a huge milestone in my life this last week for which I am forever grateful to my God. As such, what better way to be reminded of His grace in my life than to feel His presence admiring the beauty of creation surrounded by thousands of giant sequoia trees.
These threes have not only stood the test of time but weathered many storms losing a branch here or there but never lose its hope it will stand for another 100 years.
Stress relief from laughter- it’s no joke. Mayo clinic
psychological effects of forest walking in healthy adults
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