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Wellness: Finding the Way to Well-being

well-being

Wellness is the map of actions and thoughts that we use to guide us toward a higher quality of life — one with more well-being moments. Our wellness map is tailored to meet our individual needs and must be flexible and adaptable. Life throws out frequent curveballs, and human resilience depends on how well we can adapt our wellness map. I have Parkinson’s, and I continually tweak the wellness map to the changing conditions of this progressive disease.

My new onset of vision loss required more than tweaks; it called for some significant changes to my wellness map. Understanding the basic structure of a wellness map is helping me to find my way to further moments of well-being.

The process of making a wellness map involves a design that meets individual needs, accesses available resources, is implemented, and is followed up. A successful wellness map will utilize the resources available to the individual, including support, strengths, and history of well-being experiences. The wellness map should be implemented with compassion and sacred intent. Finally, a follow-up will evaluate the map’s success. These processes are all intertwined into a holistic view of wellness.

Few of us are professionally trained in all of the complexities of human wellness. We need knowledge of illnesses and available treatments, and also the wisdom about the efficacy of wellness possibilities. We require wisdom from the experts to keep our wellness map functioning at the highest possible degree. The process of choosing the experts and incorporating their wisdom into our personal wellness plan is tied into the science of human decision-making.

Each of us has individual wellness needs, and we use our own decision-making processes to design and implement our wellness map. The CHRONDI Creed contains the fundamental elements for building a Parkinson’s wellness map, but it doesn’t address the process of upgrading one’s personal map in the face of new trauma.

Vision loss affects Parkinson’s in ways that I am still understanding. Vision has been a big part of how I enjoyed the beauty and science of the world. Writing, science research, photography, artwork, flower gardens, viewing the world with its multitude of colors and shapes provided me with hours of enjoyment. Loss of vision left me feeling disconnected from life. Things didn’t look as bright and beautiful as before. The pleasure that I once received from visual stimuli was not the same, resulting in a deeper understanding of how important “pleasure chemistry” and happiness are to the treatment of Parkinson’s — and the risks of losing that or trying to replace it artificially. My new wellness map will take all of this into consideration.

Some days I have no clear vision of what I need to do (no pun intended). Shifting to the basics helps — exercise, eating well, quiet mind, and gratitude. It’s a focus on healing, with little language (internal and external) about feeling sick. This doesn’t mean I should ignore my physical ailments and the treatments. It means that the sickness treatments are wrapped up in a comforting blanket of wellness. Sometimes, fatigue hits hard, and I don’t have the energy to pursue wellness mapmaking. Back to basics: rest, meditate, and let it go. I will continue tomorrow. Build patience and compassion into the wellness map.

Redesigning a wellness map is about choosing wisely how to use your time. Stay away from toxic thinking and behaviors and avoid unhealthy environments. Spend more time engaged in wellness-related thoughts and actions — those that have the greatest potential for leading to moments of well-being. Focus on being well, rather than complaining about suffering.

One carves out a little piece of time from the large amount dedicated to thinking or acting in response to sickness, and then allocates that little block of time to wellness. The wellness map is built with a practice of thought and action that bolsters the healing process and helps to hold open the door to more moments of well-being. It takes resilience, patience, and hard work to forge an improved wellness map. But it is never too late to start working on it.

What changes have you had to make to your wellness map recently?

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Wellness: Finding the Way to Well-being appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

The Link Between Compassionate Support and Wellness

PD Dr. C's Journey, loss of vision

It has been rough going recently, after I acquired a “legally blind” diagnosis on top of Parkinson’s disease. It has been a month, and part of the reason I am back to column writing so soon is because of the compassionate support I received, which was freely given. It has made a big difference in my life. This compassionate support has bolstered my wellness program and given me the added strength I needed to move forward.

People speak of wellness as some sort of bonus you get from doing something because it’s “good for you,” like eating vegetables or walking 10,000 steps a day. But healthful practices are not the only factor in the wellness process. The wellness that comes from compassionate support is more than that.

When support is given in a truly compassionate way, it reflects not only on the act of support, but also on the possibility that we can be a “better self.” It doesn’t matter how bad things appear because compassionate support can make things better. It works.

There are lots of ways to block yourself from connecting to the compassion others offer. Sometimes, it seems easier to give than to receive. This month, I didn’t want to go to the local Parkinson’s support group. I felt like a failure, to everyone else and to myself. The pain and suffering I was going through created a wall between me and the rest of the world.

My partner of almost 50 years convinced me to go. Allowing myself to be vulnerable, to let down those walls and enjoy the support group, also allowed me to feel this potential for the betterment of mankind. I connected to that for my personal well-being. Moaning about how terrible I feel doesn’t get me anywhere. I am trying to focus on the here and now, to keep a positive attitude about tomorrow.

Over the past four years, my partner and I have moved to a new house that is more ADA-accessible, changed career focus, rebuilt our caregiver/social network, and dealt with each untoward event that has popped up along the way. My partner walked with me through all of this while having her own medical issues. Often fatigued and occasionally overwhelmed, she fought hard to improve our quality of life. This included kicking me in the butt occasionally, and being firm about the importance of continuing to engage in life.

There is much research that lends credence to this idea that humans helping one another — sharing in the process of compassionate support — can make a difference in wellness. A recent study showed that a stronger purpose in life was associated with lower all-cause mortality. Several interventions have been clinically reviewed, including well-being therapy, that demonstrated improvements in purpose in life, quality of life, and various health outcomes.

The “O” in CHRONDI is for “Others.” It speaks to the interconnectedness we have with each other, connections that can help with our wellness. This is not about some supernatural phenomena or “butterfly effect.” Rather, it is about a human relationship phenomenon that exists to share a flow moment in time. It is the experience of gratification after allowing myself to embrace the compassion being given. The compassion given and received (well-being experienced phenomenon) is a fundamental part of the relationship I call the healing relationship.

There can be resistance to the healing relationship that is connected to compassionate support. Connectedness doesn’t usurp identity. I sit on the island of individuality often. The idea of self has special meaning for me. It’s the “I” in CHRONDI. When it comes to wellness, that island is the last place I want to be.

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I want to add a special note of recognition and gratitude to my first-line editor, Robin Ketchen; the BioNews Services team, especially Brad Dell and Dave Boddiger; my family and friends; the New London and Concord Parkinson’s support groups; and all those readers of my column whose comments were so encouraging for me to continue writing. A special hug to my wife, who reminds me of where I need to be, helps me get to the destination, and has supported the “journey” for all these decades. 

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post The Link Between Compassionate Support and Wellness appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.