The Holiday season can be the most joyful, wonderful time of the year. It can also be complicated, stressful and depressing. This is true for everyone, but people with Parkinson’s disease have an especially unique perspective on this festive time of year.
Recently we asked a large online Parkinson’s disease community—which includes people with Parkinson’s, caregivers, friends, family and other interested parties—what impact the Holidays had on their disease. The responses provide insightful perspective, and invaluable advice from an amazing, courageous and hopeful group of people.
Tip #1: Express gratitude
Diana A. said she relies on gratitude to navigate the Holiday season. “Honestly for me the holidays are hard,” she said. “Ups and downs, but I am thankful for what I have.”
Kathleen K. agrees. “I choose to downplay holidays anyway,” she said. “The less pomp and pageantry the better, for me. I’d rather live each day being thankful.”
According to Psychology Today, expressing gratitude can improve physical health, open the door to relationships with other people, enhance ability to feel empathy and more. “Whether you choose to write a few sentences in a gratitude journal or simply take a moment to silently acknowledge all that you have, giving thanks can transform your life,” their site says.
Tip #2: Simplify your life
One respondent relies on simplification to ease the stress of the season. “Stress is not good for Parkinson’s and Christmas is usually stressful,” said Susan F. “We changed our Christmas to a quiet day with one or maybe two guests, or if we wanted to do family Christmas we left before it got too bad.”
Studies show that living a simplified life can reduce stress, save money, improve physical health and even help the environment. Check out this article on Happiness.com to learn more.
Susan continued, “2020 is so full of stress that this year I am staying home and watching Christmas movies with eggnog and fruitcake.”
Tip #3: Share time with loved ones
Above all, the most valuable advice given by people with Parkinson’s was to try and surround yourself (even if it’s just virtually) with people you love.
“My husband with Parkinson’s and I will be spending the Holidays alone in our home this year due to Covid,” said Joy K. “We are TOGETHER and that’s what counts.”
“For me the Holidays are both good and not so good,” said Evelyn V. “I love the holidays and still have the desire to do everything I’ve always done but find that I lack the energy to do it all like in the past. But I’ll get done what I can and be content with that. I just remind myself that the season is about love, kindness and sharing and not how much I decorate or bake or entertain.”
Tip #4: Stay busy
Lynn E. chose to see the busyness of the season in a decidedly optimistic light. “I’d say it’s a good thing for me because it forces me to stay busy with various tasks,” he said. “My greatest enemy with PD is the urge to do nothing. So, having motivation to keep moving is a good thing about this time of year. If someone is a family member or caregiver, I would strongly recommend assigning tasks and keeping the person with Parkinson’s engaged.”
The personal development site Lifesorted.com credits keeping busy as an important way to stay focused and calm.
According to the site, “staying busy is a great way to combat negative emotions and stay positive. When our plans are in progress, we feel hopeful and motivated. Often when we’re busy, we don’t have time to dwell on feelings of worry, sadness, loneliness, anger or jealousy, which can be a good thing.”
If you have specific strategies to avoid Holiday-related stress and anxiety, and benefit the Parkinson’s disease community, please share them on the PhotoPharmics Facebook page.