Beverly Simpson would like to stress how to de-stress.

The parish nurse at Chatfield United Methodist explained a series of workshops being held this year at The Gathering Place, a senior citizen meeting center. The stress relievers are being hosted by Help Our Neighbors (HON) for seniors who would like to learn how to find calm even when they are not feeling well-balanced.

In January, the workshop series began by defining stress and how seniors can be more mindful or aware of stress. In February, mediation and relaxation techniques were demonstrated. In March, seniors learned how prayer can be used as therapy and used a prayer labyrinth as a guide.

Simpson noted in April a music therapist will be talking with seniors about how music can change one's mood and alleviate stress.

"Stress is a part of everyone's daily life," Simpson added.

HON hosts "Mind Your Stress" seminars on stress management that include guest speakers sharing how laughter, a good diet and some good tunes can make a big difference in one's outlook.

"I would most like people to know that you can use meditation and relaxation, prayer, music, laughter or humor, and a nutritious diet to achieve a more balanced, stress-free life - the interesting part of this series is that we already may use many of these techniques in our daily lives without actually being aware of how they help us cope," she said.

The series may help guide people's decisions about strategies and techniques to meet specific needs.

Simpson continued, "I hope people enjoy the company of others who may be dealing with stress in their lives. I also hope these sessions will help people realize their control over their health and the stress in their lives, and how easy these techniques are to use."

The invitation HON extended to potential attendees cited, "Studies consistently show that people who do best at managing stress also tend to stay the healthiest in older age. Reducing stress can help you to become a more productive and happy person."

The first speaker, music therapist Jenny Kruse, will bring tunes to share at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church this Wednesday, April 9, at 11 a.m., enlightening attendees on how the use of music leads to improved mood, concentration and motivation, and pointing out which kinds of music are most helpful in untying one's emotional knots.

Exactly one month later, retired health professional and laughter yogi Connie DeLorme will appear at The Gathering Place on Monday, May 12, at 11 a.m. to give the goods on why it's so great to giggle.

The HON invitation states, "Why laugh? It reduces stress, improves heart health, lowers blood pressure, burns calories, lowers blood sugar and boosts the immune system."

And noshing on good food? That's a guaranteed way to de-stress. Simpson hopes to welcome seniors to St. Mary's Catholic Church to hear Olmsted Medical Center dietician Bridget Ideker tell why a poor diet "puts the body in a state of physical stress and weakens the immune system," then assist seniors in analyzing their diets so they can "minimize stress and live longer, healthier lives."

Finally, "The Lady Pastor," Lutheran pastor Emily Carson, will reprise her appearance at The Gathering Place on Tuesday, July 8, to help seniors find their balance - "learning how to build your toolkit for a more balanced life."

Simpson reiterated the importance of reducing stress as a means of happier existence and longer life, and added that dining out with friends is important, too.

"There will be a light luncheon preceding or after each program," she concluded.

For more information on Gathering Place HON programs, interested persons may contact her at (507) 867-0064.