Food, mood, and stress

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Food, mood, and stress

Food, mood, and stress

Stress is a demand made on your body.  A stressor can be people, places, or events that you see as a threat.  Stress is a normal chemical reaction in your body which can be either good or harmful.

Parkinson’s is a chronic condition that can lead to many different kinds of stress.  People with Parkinson’s are often under great stress which can lead to health problems. If stress does not stop then your body never gets a chance to heal itself.

It is important to try to identify the stressors in your life. These could include:

  • Change of personal circumstances
  • Moving house
  • Changing your job
  • Concerns about family or friends
  • Medications new or changed

Learn to recognise the signs of stress:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Clammy hands
  • Tearfulness
  • Depression
  • Feeling faint
  • Fingernail biting
  • Decreased talking
  • Speaking too much or too quickly
  • Chain smoking
  • Over or under eating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fatigue/weariness
  • Anger, resentment, or irritability
  • Gut issues including constipation, nausea, diarrhoea, or indigestion

These signs and symptoms occur because the body and mind become exhausted from trying to deal with the constant state of stress.  Identifying stressors can lead to taking action to manage and reduce stress.

The best ways to manage stress are

Nutrition

Eating a well-balanced diet of smaller, more frequent meals results in smaller serves of protein reducing the interference with levodopa. It will also maintain blood sugar levels instead of fluctuations and this produces a calming effect.

Foods that assist the body to form serotonin (a chemical that signals the body to relax) are bananas, pineapple, papaya, dates, plums, figs, pecans, walnuts, tomatoes, and kiwi fruit.

Eat six serves of complex carbohydrates per day as well as two or three moderate portions of protein and less fatty foods.  Drink plenty of water as it decreases fluid retention and aids in the management of constipation.

Exercise

A natural stress buster that can help to work off anxiety and muscle tension. Regular exercise aids in giving a better outlook on life generally.

 It can also strengthen your immune system, maintain bone strength, and manage cholesterol.  Examples of exercise are walking, gardening, cycling, swimming, dancing, stretching, yoga, boxing, and tai chi.

Relaxation

Reduces stress and improves the quality of life. Examples of stress reducers are meditation, yoga, going to bed on time, and delegating tasks to others.

In general it is good to ask for help, have a back-up plan, and find some time for yourself. Remember how important you are, join a support group, and think of what you are grateful for every day.

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