As we age we take different paths to maintain good health. We have to seek out what works best for us in order to live a good quality of life.  

How do we do that?

It depends on your preferences, personal beliefs, values, and particular circumstances. 

Over the years I've found that it's important to learn how to tend to our emotional needs as well as our physical ones. When we're feeling stressed, burned out, sick or depressed, we need something to help us through our darker moments.

One thing I've found that quickly soothes my soul and calms my nerves is watching an old classic movie.  When the time comes, I turn off the lights, grab a big bowl of popcorn, put my feet up, and get ready to be captivated.

I fell in love with classic films the first time I watched "It's A Wonderful Life" as a young girl. I was totally immersed in the story, and since then I've come to love those old gems as if they were my dear friends.

I admittedly daydream about Robert Osborne, the host of the TCM Classic Movies channel, calling me because he needs me to help him co-host his weekly series "The Essentials." (Sorry, Drew Barrymore.) On camera, we'd discuss our picks-of-the-week, delve into fascinating back-stories, compare directors, producers and writers, and talk about on-screen chemistry between actors.

Pure Utopia.

Thanks to Mr. Osborne's efforts, these films have been restored and preserved for our generation and generations to come.  They are part of our history, and in my opinion today's movies pale in comparison to them.

Character driven rather than fast action, these films tell stories using well-written, smart dialogue. They don't need to be graphic to be appealing, and every detail isn't explicitly spelled out for the viewer.  Filmmakers trusted their audiences more than they do today, allowing them to use their imagination on how a story might end. Will the couple live happily ever after? Will the heroine be happy after the hero leaves her? Is the murderer sentenced to death? Often left open-ended, it's up to the viewer to create the ending. 

My go-to film is "His Girl Friday", a fast-talking screwball comedy about a husband (Cary Grant) who learns that his ex-wife (Rosalind Russell) is about to remarry.  The rapid-fire repartee between characters, using overlapping dialogue, is hilariously funny.

My husband and I have watched it countless times, and every time we do our cares melt away.  Sometimes we laugh at a line before it's even said. It's amazing how much better we feel after watching it.

There's no need to take any Xanax. Watching these films is an instant stress buster.

To help you get started on your non-medicinal stress buster, here's a beginner's list of four of my favorite classic movies.  They are happy, insightful, fun, and all of them are classic.  I hope you enjoy them.  Pack up all your cares and woes!

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (James Stewart, Jean Arthur, 1939): A political/comedy/drama tells the story of a wide-eyed junior senator sent to Washington who soon learns about the darker side of politics.

The Philadelphia Story (Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, 1940): A romantic comedy about a divorced socialite about to remarry when her plans get complicated after the arrival of her ex-husband.  James Stewart won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this film.   

To Kill a Mockingbird: (Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford, Robert Duvall, 1962) This adaptation of Harper Lee's bestselling novel covers three years in the lives of a widowed attorney and his two young children.  The story is set in a fictional small town in the south, and captures the themes of the innocence of children against the backdrop of racism, mob rule and murder.  Harper Lee wept after first arriving on set and seeing Mr. Peck, who looked so much like her father, the basis for the protagonist, Atticus Finch.

State of the Union: (Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Angela Lansbury, Van Johnson, Adolphe Menjou, 1948): A Republican newspaperwoman (Lansbury) decides she wants her wealthy businessman lover (Tracy) to run for President of the United States in time for the 1948 Republican National Convention.  Naïve and skeptical, he begins campaigning across the country with his estranged wife (Hepburn) and their Campaign Manager (Johnson).

NOTE: Make sure you pay close attention to the last scene when, during his "fireside" chat, Tracy's backers threaten to cut him off after making a controversial speech. He then orders them not to touch a thing because he's paying for the broadcast. Years later, when Candidate Ronald Reagan ordered a heated presidential debate not to be cut off, I think Reagan the ex-actor remembered this movie.  Pure Hollywood.

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Cathy Chester blogs at An Empowered Spirit, which won third prize in Healthline’s Best Health Blog Contest in 2014, was named #2 of the “Top 10 Social HealthMakers in MS” by Sharecare “ and received a nomination for the past 3 years as WEGO Health’s Best in Show Blog. She is a contributor for The Huffington Post as well as a blogger for and Boomeon. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Midlife Boulevard, BetterAfter50, Erma Bombecks’ Writers Circle, The Friendship Circle and Woman at Woodstock.