Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Stress relief tips in our ‘Anxiety Society’

Is there anyone these days who can say these are not stressful times?  In fact, when we were looking for a catchy title for a health education program, we named it “Anxiety Society.”  

And for good reason. Approximately 18% — or 40 million Americans — suffer from anxiety disorders, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

We all experience some degree of stress on a daily basis. According to The New York Times Health Guide, stress generates from situations or thoughts that make you feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. Anxiety centers on feeling apprehension or fear.

Stress in low doses is normal, and even beneficial, as it motivates you, and makes you more productive.

My colleague Eric Sandberg, PhD, of the Backus Center for Mental Health, has given numerous presentations on stress and anxiety. During the “Anxiety Society” presentation, he explained that stress is external, and anxiety is internal.

That’s an interesting way of looking at it.  The only thing we can control is our response to the inevitable stresses of life.  There are degrees of anxiety.  In cases of severe anxiety, when a person is overwhelmed with deep panic and fright, professional medical help should be sought immediately.

The mild stress that we encounter daily can be managed with some easy techniques, according to Dr. Sandberg. He offers some self-help stress busters:

•  Imagine warming your hands by a fire on a cold night
•  Be nice to someone
•  Recognize one of your strengths
•  Make plans for a great future
•  Read, hear, make a joke
•  Pet a pet
•  Talk to a friend
•  Take a walk
•  Recreation
And my personal favorite:
•  Eat healthy, tasty food 

My colleague Lisa says when she is stressed, “I go to my happy place.”  When I asked her to explain, she said, “I imagine myself at the beach, or playing with my daughters in the back yard, or relaxing in our favorite vacation spot in Maine.”  

All great ideas for relieving stress in these tough times. 

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org.

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