“We are living in a stressed-out society,” said Kelley Annese, the program coordinator for JF&CS Aging Well at Home. “Every age group is experiencing more stress than ever before.”

Annese is something of an expert on stress. For over 10 years, Kelley has taught yoga and meditation to older adults in hospitals and senior centers around the North Shore. “I experienced a lot of anxiety and depression from a very young age,” shared Annese. “I was very fortunate to discover yoga and meditation in my early 20s. These practices have transformed my life, and it has become my mission to teach as many people as I can about the techniques that helped me.”

As part of this mission, Kelley is leading an ongoing stress management workshop for older adults on the North Shore. Held at senior housing sites and the Salem Council on Aging, this free workshop is typically offered as a four-week series of 90-minute classes. After completing the workshop, participants should come away with a better understanding of what causes them to “stress out” and a toolkit of techniques to stop the stress response before it negatively affects them.

Geared Toward Older Adults

Annese’s workshop was designed with older adults in mind because they are a population that is usually overlooked when it comes to stress management. “Some people think that once you are older and have finished raising children and are retired, there is no more stress in your life. The truth is, older adults face stress just like everyone else. And if you weren’t very good at managing stress in your younger years, chances are you won’t be good at it later in life,” she said.

The stress management workshop is a natural fit for JF&CS Aging Well at Home, which offers a suite of services that support the interdependence and wellbeing of older adults living in the community. The program focuses on naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) where there are high concentrations of older adults, particularly senior housing.

In her workshop, Kelley educates older adults about what stress is and how it takes a toll on the mind and body. Participants learn to identify what the main stressors are in their lives and how stress affects them personally. “The workshop sometimes ends up being a bit of a stress support group,” said Annese. “The participants like to share their stories and challenges from time to time.”

Drawing on Yoga, Meditation and Art

Over the course of the four weeks, participants learn 10 of the most effective stress management practices, including various meditation and breathing techniques. In addition to incorporating elements of yoga and meditation, Kelley also makes use of her background as a visual artist.

“I went to college for painting, and later, I made my living as a textile artist in California,” said Annese. “Art is extremely therapeutic, so I thought it was important to bring that element into the program as well.” Participants enjoy engaging in the workshop’s creative activities, which include rock painting and gratitude grids.

For Kelley, leading the workshop has been incredibly gratifying. “It really is rewarding to see a person’s energy shift as they experience the various techniques in the class,” said Annese. “When you can see a person relax and the smile that comes over their face, you know they got it!”

Some participants in the class end up taking the four-week series over and over again because they find it so helpful. “Many people have told me that they never felt so relaxed and at peace until they started attending these classes,” said Kelley.

How to Sign Up for the Workshop

For more information about attending the stress management workshop, please give Kelley Annese a call at 978-564-0773.

For a listing of more workshops and groups offered by JF&CS, visit our Upcoming Events page.

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