Stress is the body’s natural response to perceived danger. It is a life-saving mechanism devised to keep you on your toes, ready to battle enemies, predators, and natural disasters.

Stress, if maintained over a long period of time, becomes the enemy. If you let it have control over you it will ruin your health, your success, and your happiness.

The trick to controlling stress and anxiety is self-control. First, you have to be able to recognize the face of the enemy. Second, you have to know how to win out over stress.

If stress is a constant presence in your life, or you feel like you are in a losing battle with anxiety, it may be time to reconsider how you cope with it.

                                 Recognize the Symptoms

When you feel threatened, your body experiences a chemical reaction known as the “fight-or-flight” response. If you are stressed, your breathing quickens, your heart begins to pound, your blood pressure rises, and your muscles tighten. You may clench your fists or feel your face flush. There may be ringing in your ears. Stress symptoms are similar to those of anger.

Now imagine this chemical reaction occurring on a constant basis, and how it is beating the life out of your body. Time to fight back!

                                       What Not to Do

Common ways of coping with stress are not always the best ways. Smoking or drinking are  short-term stress relievers that do more harm than good in the long run. Eating junk food and zoning out on television are other poor coping mechanisms. You may be tempted to withdraw from friends and family or lash out at people in angry outbursts. These coping mechanisms are self-defeating in the long run.

What Champions Do

Physical Activity.

Exercise releases endorphins, which improve mood and force your mind to concentrate on your body rather than your anxiety. Choose activities you enjoy, so you will want to keep doing them. As you are engaged in the exercise, pay attention to how you are feeling physically.

Engage.

Talking with friends or other people you trust is a natural relaxer. Connect regularly. Confide, and let them listen to you. Being in the company of friends sends a message of safety to your nervous system.

Avoid stress triggers.

Say no. Taking too much on your plate can overwhelm you with stress, spreading you too thin. Avoid stressful people as much as possible. Take control. Successful people are those who feel they have control over their lives, not the other way around. If certain triggers make you anxious, change your environment.

Altering Your Space

Don’t be afraid to express yourself calmly. Bottling up feelings only fosters resentment. Participate in time management, so you don’t feel as if you are running late or overextending yourself.

Adjusting Your Attitude.

Realize that some things are beyond your control, but you can control how you react to them. See obstacles as an opportunity for growth, and poor choices as a chance to reflect.

Create Your Own Toolbox for Stress Relief

Have a toolbox on hand, a list of things that are the opposite of stress triggers. Maybe it is working with your hands or playing an instrument, listening to music or playing a game with your children. Once you have learned to recognize the signs of stress, you are more fit to combat it.