Remedies for stress and anxiety

Have we or haven’t we learned how to cope with stress and anxiety? It’s been a popular subject for years, but there’s always an appetite for more, perhaps some de-stressing, anxiety-proof technique to ease the panic of losing keys or a credit card or worse. For the finale of its Spring Community Health Series, The Greens at Cannondale’s topic was “Coping with Stress or Anxiety.” The speaker was Lateef Habib, clinical coordinator of outpatient service in Behavioral Health at Norwalk Hospital.

Mr. Habib started with a 12-minute exercise in relaxation that combined a darkened room, soft music, a photograph of a flickering candle, and his silken voice asking everyone to get into a comfortable position and close their eyes. (Note: Crossing legs or arms impedes circulation. Don’t do it.) His gentle voice guided the audience into a visualization of a candle, melting drop by drop, releasing tension in every part of the body. Sure enough, most everyone felt better.

The other techniques were more familiar.

“Women, especially,” he said, “must learn to say no more often. Multitasking and taking on too much responsibility is stressful.”

Achieving restful sleep, as much as seven hours each night, is the antidote to crankiness, clumsiness, fatigue, headaches, poor concentration, the very seeds of stress.

“But how do you get seven hours of sleep?” a woman asked. Bedrooms, evidently, must become shrines to sleep.

“No TV, no eating, no exercise for six hours before you go to bed, cool temperature.” Ideally, you’re not supposed to read in bed, but many in the audience said that TV or a book was the way they fell asleep.

When the audience was asked what they personally do to handle stress, the answers were chair yoga, long walks, prayer, listening to music, having a pet, singing in a choir, grandchildren, hugging, and shopping.

One man said he watches TV and doesn’t mind the commercials because he uses them to daydream. One woman said she got rid of her worries with self-induced hypnosis. Mr. Habib remarked that some of his patients have minimized stress by journaling, writing a poem, or learning ballroom dancing.

He summed up all the advice with a simple solution: “For every negative thought, replace it with two positive thoughts.”

On Wednesday, May 21, The Greens Education Series will present “What Is Normal Aging?” with Dr. Susan Verano, former director of The Elder Horizons program at Yale.

Dinner is from 5:30 to 6:15, with the presentation from 6:15 to 8. The Greens at Cannondale is at 435 Danbury Road. RSVP: 203-761-1191.