Putting health and well-being first
By Sheryl Jedlinski
As we usher in not only another new year, but a new decade as well, I am renewing my commitment to put my health and well-being first. Over the course of my 21+-year journey with Parkinson’s disease, I’ve learned that I am no good to anyone (myself included) or any cause unless I take care of my body and my mind. What does this entail?
- Maintaining a daily exercise regimen. Research tells us that exercise is more effective than any medicine on the market when it comes to slowing Parkinson’s disease progression and preserving patients’ independence and quality of life. How much, how often, and how hard we exercise determines how well we live with Parkinson’s. Any activity (including mall walking when the stores are open and my credit cards at the ready) that gets us up from our recliner chair and moving again is beneficial.
- Playing ordinary word, card, chess, and strategy games to improve memory, problem-solving, creativity, and other cognitive functions. My husband and I have become addicted to a three-dimensional Scrabble game called, Upwords. Our daily tournaments guarantee us regular quality together time.
- Eating better. This requires that I dine out less often (less than daily should not be difficult to achieve), make better food choices, reduce portion size, and drastically cut back on desserts (especially anything named chocolate decadence or death by chocolate). Having an incurable medical condition does not justify a diet of pizza and ice cream, unless you want to hasten your death.
- Drinking more water. It takes six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily to stay hydrated. Less than this may lead to confusion, weakness, difficulty maintaining balance, respiratory failure, kidney problems, and severe constipation.
- Getting more sleep by revisiting my previous efforts to practice good sleep habits and create a successful sleep routine. My nightly average of four or five hours of sleep is far short of the optimal seven or eight hours. This sleep deficit can impair our ability to concentrate, problem solve, make decisions, and moderate emotions; lead to overeating; and increase risk of heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and stroke.
- Avoiding pushing myself beyond my limits. Take breaks throughout the day to incorporate relaxation techniques that reduce stress and anxiety and provide additional energy.
- Living in the moment and not worrying about tomorrow.
Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year.