Finding Balance in Life
Finding Balance in Life
NWPF First Annual Parkinson’s Wellness Symposium
The NWPF sponsored the first Annual Wellness Conference for Parkinson’s, Finding Balance in Life with Parkinson’s on March 20th in Bellevue. In this article, you will find a summary of the day’s events as well as helpful links and resources recommended by the presenters.
Click on the following for a copy of the symposium handouts:
The conference was organized with NWPF medical director, Monique Giroux, MD and program coordinator Alecha Newburg to educate, inspire and bring awareness to the many treatments and lifestyle changes found to promote brain health and wellbeing for people with Parkinson’s. The conference announced this website, www.nwpf.org/wellness, designed to bring together people with Parkinson’s interested in living their best. This site encourages people with Parkinson’s to become part of the community. The wellness team encourages everyone with Parkinson’s and their loved ones to sign up, be an active member, share their stories, get and receive inspiration from others.
“Because this was the first annual conference we chose to present a broad view of the many things one can do to promote wellness rather than focus on a single area such as exercise. Everyone is different and has different needs. We were fortunate to bring together a unique group of experts to give balance to the presentation and meet these diverse needs. My hope is that everyone that attended the conference came away with one item, action step or goal to enhance their own sense of wellbeing”. Dr. Giroux, MD also stated that the virtual wellness center an on line interactive tool produced by the NWPF “will create a sense of community, inspiration and support so important to all of us striving to do our best”.
The first step is to define what wellness means to you.
Some think of wellness as a physical state or absence of disease. Others think of wellness as a sense of balance in ones life. For some, wellness may be a state of mind or inner peace. Wellness is an idea, a concept, a feeling, a goal, and a sense of ideal living.
Dr. Giroux and Sierra Farris, PA-C partnered with the Davis Phinney Foundation to produce a Parkinson’s personal wellness book, ‘Every Victory Counts: An essential guide to living your best with Parkinsons'.
Wellness can change over time. Through an understanding of what is most important to your life and lifestyle at this point in time, it is possible to achieve wellness. It is important that you, as a person with Parkinson's disease or movement disorder, define what is important to you in defining your own wellness definition. Define Your Wellness and Re-invent the wheel for more help on getting started.
Wellness in the setting of illness requires healing the person while treating the disease. Healing brings together the whole person, in a balance that includes the physical body, mind and spirit. A state of balanced wellbeing in life can be achieved by taking steps to improve your health when possible, with focus not just on physical activity, but also, nutrition, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. These themes continued throughout the day and were echoed by each of the presenters.
Physical strength and brain health requires exercise and nutrition.
Brain Health and Neuroplasticity
Dr. Giroux introduced the concept of neuroplasticity so important to brain health for people with Parkinson’s and all of us as we age successfully. Neuroplasticity refers to the capacity of nerve cells and nerve networks to strengthen their activity and connections in response to new activity and experiences. In Parkinson’s this also refers to Neuroprotection or the ability of a treatment or activity to protect dopamine nerve cells that are vulnerable to cell death in Parkinson’s.
See Use it or lose it for more information on Neuroplasticity and neuroprotection.
There is no special fad diet for Parkinson's. A diet rich in anti-oxidants, low in processed foods, low in glycemic index, high in omega 3 fatty acids and fiber is key to nutritional health. Our July 2010 series Food as Medicine will review the most important steps to eating well- for body and brain health.
Sierra Farris, PA-C physician assistant and physical trainer reviewed the important role of exercise in successful aging, physical stamina and mobility. More importantly, research supports the idea that exercise is neuroprotective and can protect dopamine nerve cells perhaps slowing disease progression. Ms. Farris reviewed research that reinforced the power of the mind and body. Studies suggest we get more out of exercise when stress is treated and imagery or visualizing our activity helps our performance. Sierra and yoga therapist Tim Seiwareth, RYT reviewed exercise that can help people with PD (and everyone else) and the power of yoga as just one technique to help strength, posture, balance, coordination and mindfulness.
A positive attitude, active mind, stress reduction and being present in the moment.
Cognitive and Emotional Health
Dr. Martha Glisky
, clinical Neuropsychologist in private practice in Bellevue, WA
reviewed the power of the mind, the importance of cognitive health and the ‘use it or lose it’ theme that is so important to brain health. Staying active socially, taking up new projects, focusing on the creative and the challenging through art, music, dance, relationships and new experiences is so important to our critical thinking skills. She also reminded us to be aware of the self defeating thoughts- filled with I shoulds or I must- that lead to catastrophising and can sabotage our positive thinking and mood. Additional resources recommended by Dr. Glisky:
- The Sharp Brains Guide to Brain Fitness by Alvaro Fernandez and Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg
- Exercise and It's Mediating Effects on Cognition (Aging, Exercise and Cognition) edited by Waneen Spirduso, Leonard Poon, and Wojtek Chodzko-Zaiko
- Brain Rules by John Medina
- Managing Your Mind - The Mental Fitness Guide by Gillian Butler, Ph.D. and Tony Hope, MD
- The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (Children's book on positivity)
Stress and Mindfulness
Dr. Jan Fite, PhD, Clinical Psychologist at the University of Washington reminded us of the importance of mindfulness and guided participants through a mindfulness based relaxation exercise. She borrows from the words of John Kabat-Zinn, PhD, a leader in stress reduction, that ‘mindfulness means paying attention tin a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgementally. ’ These techniques help reduce anxiety and stress, and help us relax. They also help with letting go of the things we can no longer do, working toward things we can do, change or improve, and adapting or modifying your lifestyle and routine to meet your personal needs, interests and life passion. Yoga with Tim Seiwareth, RYT added yet more lessons on mindfulness and relaxation.
Dr. Fite describes mindfulness
on this site. More information on mindfulness can be obtained from:
- Quiet Mind, A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation. by Susan Piver
- Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron, book or CD at Sounds True, Shambhala Lion Edition.
- Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind, Change Your Life by Victor Davich. Radical Acceptance: Guided Meditations, Tara Brach (she also has a website where you can download podcasts)
- Mindfulness in Plain English, Ven. Henepola Gunaratana
- The Wise Heart, Jack Kornfield
- Lovingkindness, Sharon Salzberg
- Turning the Mind Into an Ally, Sakyong Mipham and Pema Chodron
These CDs can help you get started with a mindfulness practice aimed at reducing the impact that stress, symptoms and life changes have on your physical body by tapping into the relaxation response.
- Guided Imagery for Parkinson’s disease. By Bellaruth Naperasek, available at www.healthjourneys.com.
- Breathing the master key to self healing by Andrew Weil, MD and John Kabott Zin, PhD (audio CD available at www.amazon.com).
Laughter and Gratitude
Equally important to a healthy mind is the power of laughter and fun I the healing process. Laughter is contagious. Donna Oiland, a humorist kept us laughing and reminded us just how good this feels- even on a bad day. Take home message…Make someone laugh, make their day and yours.
Donna recommends the following books to bring joy and gratitude into your life.
- Thank you Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You. By Deborah Norville, Thomas Nelson publisher. Deborah Norville's groundbreaking and persuasive book argues that gratitude is the secret key to unlocking one's full life potential.
- Thanks: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier. By Robert Emmons, Mariner Books publisher. A scientifically groundbreaking, eloquent look at how we benefit -- psychologically, physically, and interpersonally -- when we practice gratitude.
All in all the day was a huge success. Quite a lot of information was covered during this conference.
Participants were encouraged to find one area, lifestyle change or action item to add to life for wellness. Use the Wellness Summary Worksheet
to to prioritize your next steps.
We will return next year and focus on the topic of most interest to you the wellness community (You canhelp shape next years conference! Future survey will be sent to members of the wellness community to find out what is important to you).
Join the Wellness Center community for monthly updates and sign in to become a member, tell us what is on your mind and receive monthly updates.