Learning how to understand the importance of managing stress

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Stress is something we have all had to deal with. Especially over the last few years. It can leave us drained of energy so we struggle with day to day activities, work and family. Stress can increase anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. It can even make us physically sick.

"When we are in a higher level of stress, and we get closer to that ten mark, it does not take much to push our buttons to get a stress response, like an overreaction,” says Joan Najbar, LICSW Mental Health counseling at Essentia Health.

It is managing this stress that is key.

There are many ways to deal with stress. Some are positive, like exercise, reading, or meditation. However, if a person becomes isolated, or if they have significant mood changes, or become violent, these are red flags that the stress and anxiety is at a very high level.

"If you’re adding alcohol or chemicals to stressful situations, that makes it harder because alcohol is a depressant." Najbar said. "If you’re depressed and relying on alcohol alone to calm yourself, you’re in trouble."

When facing ongoing stress, it becomes important to practice healthy self-care or even create a routine; to get the mind and body into a more balanced state.

Dr. Najbar suggests simple but effective methods. She says exercising, playing calming and soothing music, or other activities that help you wind down can help calm you.

Dr. Najbar stresses good nutrition and getting enough sleep are very important to your over all good mind and body health.

She says having a good support network is beneficial for both mental and physical health. As we learn to manage our own stress, we can also help others by focusing on how we communicate.

"I just wish we could all be kinder," Dr. Najbar says. "Practice more compassion and go easy on each other. It’s just so important."

Talking to a mental health professional can help you get on the right track to control your stress. Here are a few websites that contain additional steps to help you reduce and manage stress: Forbes Health and Helpguide