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The antidote for anxiety and stress is love and compassion. Receiving love and compassion from another person is delightful, but for various reasons may not be happening at a high quality level, and even when it is, the love and compassion you consistently offer to yourself is that which truly sustains you.

Anxiety is one of several reactions to extreme stress. Our bodies are hardwired to detect threats to our existence which ignite the "fight, flight or freeze" response from the hypothalamus. Think about it, when a herd of hairy red wooly mammoths is rounding the corner and coming your way you are grateful for the rush of adrenaline which makes it possible for you to run quickly and leap high into the nearest tree. Since we're rather short on mammoths lately we make do with the threats we do have in abundance: bad drivers, deadlines, yelling spouse or boss, theft, accidents. These threats are different, but very much as real to the brain.

The love and connection you offer yourself daily helps either expend or counteract the chemical messengers the hypothalamus floods into your body.

Learning to connect with and love yourself can be a daunting and unfamiliar path for many of us. The first strategy you can implement to help lower your stress level through self-connection is exercise. It is simple and need not be time consuming. All it takes is enough effort to break a sweat and you'll start to feel the effects of those chemical messengers which have prepared your body to fight or flee begin to dissipate because they are being used for the physical exertion they are intended to facilitate. Fifty sit-ups or push-ups or five minutes of jogging might be just the key.

On the other hand, sustained exercise has benefits beyond the consumption of chemical messages from the hypothalamus. Quite to the contrary, the "runner's high" which comes from prolonged exertion actually increases the endorphins in the brain, particularly around those centers responsible for mood, the limbic and prefrontal areas, according to the New York Times. Some people actually can experience more happiness and contentment after a dozen grueling miles. In fact, those same areas of the brain are activated when people are involved in romantic love affairs -- you really are giving your brain some serious loving!

So, give yourself some love today by getting the proper amount (check with your physician) of exercise to enhance your body and mind.