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STAFF PHOTO/C.J. MARSHALL Rachael Wydra provides information about the importance of how to handle stress properly to participants at the Active Adult Center in Falls.

Participants at the Falls Active Adult Center recently received valuable information on Monday on how to identify and deal with various types of stress.

Rachael Wydra, RN, a Behavioral Health Nurse Consultant with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, spoke about the importance of dealing with stress.

“For people 60 and over, the suicide rate is very high,” she explained.

Stress is the way the body handles changes in the environment. One of the leading causes of stress is job pressure, she explained, but it call also be caused by depression, anxiety, illness, as well as other factors.

In certain circumstances, Wydra explained, stress can have advantages, because it can make a person work harder and think more clearly. But stress that continues for an extended period becomes harmful.

Another major cause of stress is grief, Wydra said. Loss of a loved one can be detrimental if a person does not know how to deal with the grief and stress.

Certain foods can be very beneficial in helping to reduce stress levels.

“Green leafy vegetables produce the pleasure inducing chemical dopamine, which helps calm the brain,” Wydra said.

Turkey is another stress-reducing food, she said, because it helps produce serotonin. This is the chemical that regulates feelings of well-being and happiness - which is why so many people feel good after a Thanksgiving meal.

Other foods that can help to relieve stress include oatmeal, yogurt, salmon, blueberries, pistachios, dark chocolate, milk, seeds, avocados, and cashews.

There are a number of techniques available geared to helping a person relax and reduce stress, Wydra explained.

“A person can meditate, she explained. “All it takes is a few minutes each day.”

Mediation does not require any special techniques, she explained. All people have to do is sit comfortably, with their feet on the floor, close their eyes, and focus on a positive thought.

Proper breathing techniques are also helpful in reducing stress.

“Slowly breath through your nose, and out through your mouth,” Wydra said. “A few minutes each day can be very beneficial.

Another relaxation technique is to tighten various muscle groups - arms, legs, neck, etc. Tighten the muscles in a specific area for several seconds, then relax. Then go onto the next group.

“Once you’ve finished, you’ll feel very relaxed,” she said.

Stress balls are also effective ways to reduce stress.

“You can easily make on by filling a balloon with flour,” she said. “Or you can use rice.”

Squeezing a stress ball helps relieve tension and helps a person relax, she said.

Certain scents are also effective in reducing or eliminating stress, Wydra explained.

Among the scents Wydra recommended included lavender, lemon, sandalwood, frankincense, and rosemary.