4 Tips for Balancing Work and Parkinson’s

desk is cluttered with items as author balances work and Parkinson's

Many people with Parkinson’s worry about how their diagnosis will impact their ability to work. The truth is, it can be unpredictable. Symptoms differ substantially from person to person, and they change over time.

Here are four strategies to help you balance work and Parkinson’s:

1. Plan for Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom of Parkinson’s that is particularly challenging to manage in the context of work. One way to minimize fatigue—and maximize your energy and productivity—is to optimize your work setting, structure and the length of your work day. For example, explore options to:

  • Take advantage of flex time
  • Work from home to eliminate a commute
  • Reduce or adjust your work hours
  • Build short rest periods into your work day
  • Sequence your work to allow you to tackle the most demanding tasks during peak energy time

Regardless of your approach, having a strategy (or several) for managing fatigue is key to both feeling your best and restoring your sense of control.

2. Prioritize Exercise

Work has a knack for interfering with exercise. For many people, exercise is the first thing to go when work gets busy. Yet for people living with Parkinson’s, research indicates that exercise slows physical decline and may provide neuroprotective benefits. For these reasons, doctors recommend exercise as an essential component of Parkinson’s treatment. Since different types of exercise provide different benefits, mix it up with:

  • Stretching
  • Walking
  • Strength-training
  • Aerobic conditioning

Learn more about exercise and Parkinson’s:

Why is Exercise Important for People Living with Parkinson’s?
10 Tips for Exercising with Parkinson’s
How Exercise Can Ease Anxiety in Parkinson’s

3. Optimize Your Work Environment

Instead of trying to do things in ways that worked for you in the past, consider modifying your work environment to meet your current needs. Depending on the work you do, and the challenges you experience, you might:

  • Implement an ergonomic workspace
  • Utilize arm supports
  • Use weighted pens/pencils
  • Adjust the settings on your computer and mobile device (large font, high-contrast)
  • Utilize voice transcription software to minimize writing/keyboarding

4. Tend to Your Emotional Health

People with Parkinson’s are at an increased risk for apathy and depression. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to have some safeguards in place. Consider what you enjoy. Is it connecting with friends? Listening to music? Meditating? Block out time on your calendar for the things that boost your spirits and refresh you. It’s another way to be active — and proactive — in your own care.

Learn more about emotional health:

Is Depression Common for People with Parkinson’s?
Can You Identify Your Depression Triggers?
How Good Eating Habits Can Help Anxiety
Video Library: Emotional Wellbeing

Get Started Today

If you are one of the many people working while living with Parkinson’s, we hope these strategies spark more ideas to help you to live and work well today. Prepare yourself, track your progress and record areas you would like to improve by downloading our free worksheets and educational presentations.

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