Mindfulness May Help Reduce Some Parkinson’s Symptoms
Monday, 1st March 2021

Results from a recent Fox Insight survey on stress and mindfulness show that people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience more stress than others. Fox Insight is The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s (MJFF) online clinical study that collects information from people with and without Parkinson’s to gain a better understanding of the disease from those who know it best.

Led by Anouk van der Heide, MSc, at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, a new paper published in the journal Nature explores the findings from this survey on stress and mindfulness.

More than 6,200 Fox Insight participants completed the survey, including 5,000 people with Parkinson’s. It asked about the impact of stress on Parkinson’s symptoms and strategies used to manage or reduce stress. Researchers used several scales to measure stress, anxiety, mindfulness and self-compassion.

People with Parkinson’s reported that stress worsened both motor and non-motor symptoms, especially tremor and anxiety. Over 83 percent of respondents used exercise to reduce stress, while other strategies included praying, listening to music and reading.

More than 38 percent of respondents found mindfulness helped manage their stress and improved motor and non-motor symptoms, including anxiety and depressed mood. Practicing mindfulness means being aware in the present moment.

Nearly half of respondents in Fox Insight were interested in gaining mindfulness skills. Watch an MJFF webinar as a starting point for understanding what this means. On the webinar, Nataly Kogan, founder of wellness company Happier, explains:

“The way that I very simply think about mindfulness is just noticing. It’s noticing how you feel. It’s pausing several times a day to actually check in with yourself, which not many of us do naturally, to just say, ‘How am I feeling?’ There are a couple of very simple but really important and rooted-in-research practices that I just want to share about — how do we actually practice it, and how do we use those practices to boost our wellbeing?”

The survey findings demonstrate the need for more studies on mindfulness and other strategies to reduce stress in Parkinson’s.

View a guide on stress and Parkinson’s.

Learn more or register for Fox Insight at foxinsight.org. If you’re already a Fox Insight participant, sign in and find questionnaires in the Survey Center under Related Research.