The answer from the adults was no answer at all. We love to hate it, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the role that exercise plays in helping to upgrade the body's ability to be an effective anti-stress "surge protector." According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, exercise helps the body fight anxiety by producing endorphins, the body's natural opioids, that help produce a hormonal sense of strength, confidence, and wellbeing. Research published in the Journal of Physiology further found that aerobic exercise facilitates the creating of new nerve cells in the hippocampus, a brain structure that plays an important role of the processing of memory and emotion. In general, the "beefier" the hippocampus is, the more adept the person is at managing stress. How did a nice person like you become like this? After all, you're a nice person, you do your job, and you try not to hurt anyone. You're considerate, responsible, appropriate and polite. So, you ask yourself, "How did this happen to me? How did I become this way? The way you are today is a direct result of how you were parented, educated, and raised. The beliefs you have about your capability relate back to early childhood experiences, when you made decisions about yourself, then formulated beliefs about life, then unconsciously searched for evidence to validate those decisions and beliefs. The voices in your head may say, "I had a wonderful childhood. My parents loved us children and provided everything for us. We all loved one another, and we had such good times." All these comments may seem true to you, and in fact they very well may be, but there is a relationship between what happened then and how you are now. I'll give you a couple of examples of our ignorance when it comes to being taught the skills to become happier people. When I teach at conferences, I often ask for a show of hands. I say, "Raise your hand if when you were a teenager, you were taught a conflict resolution course in your high school." Usually, there is not one hand raised among hundreds of people. To me, this is astonishing because when we are teenagers, there is so much conflict in our lives, so much emotion, and for many, so much turmoil. And how are we taught to deal with conflict in relationships? We're not, we were constantly told to behave, but not how to behave--not how to resolve conflicts peacefully.

The world is full of human conflict, and we are taught almost nothing about how to resolve it. I was going to write this earlier, but I kept putting it off. I couldn't get around to it. Now you may be thinking: High school is really about learning things that help you get a job or prepare for college, and learning breathing techniques and conflict resolution classes won't help get you a job. This is perhaps true, but learning these skills may help you keep a job, or a marriage. Actually, some years ago my wife gave me a round tuit. It's a metal disc that says "This is a round tuit. Now you have one. You can't say "When I get around to it." anymore." I think she was trying to tell me something. Now you can't say that you don't have one anymore! I procrastinate a lot. Often it's because something seems unpleasant. Maybe I haven't cleaned up the dog poop for a week and the prospect of a whole yard full of poop is not appealing. Of course, if I keep putting it off, it's not going to get any more pleasant. More often I procrastinate when I'm not quite sure I can actually do something. Identify a shame-attacking exercise you are willing to do. Make yourself do it even though you feel uncomfortable about it. "But people are going to look at me like there's something wrong with me!" Well, that's the point, but so what? Prove to yourself you don't need their approval by doing it anyway! If you begin to feel ashamed while performing the exercise, just think about those three key ideas, and keep pushing yourself to complete the exercise.

No excuses! Just do it! As soon as possible after you finish your shame-attacking exercise, reflect on your experience:How did you feel when you were doing it? How do you feel now? You have told yourself that you must have the approval of others. Now consider whether you have again proven this idea false. Better yet, you don't even need to work out long. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, seven minutes of a type of exercise known as "high-intensity interval training" (HIT) can yield tremendous benefits. In fact, work by researchers at McMasters University found that HIT creates molecular changes in the muscles similar to those produced by several hours of biking or running. HIT involves alternating between vigorous stimulation of the muscles of the upper body (weights, push-ups, planks, etc.) with vigorous stimulation of the lower body (squats, crunches, abductions, etc.) with a brief, more restful interval in between, usually involving light cardio. There are many different HIT programs, and you can learn more about them by consulting your physician, physical therapist, or a personal trainer. The point is, almost anyone can manage to exercise for seven minutes a day. If you are struggling with the physical effects of stress and anxiety, make sure to take a few minutes to beef up your body's anxiety-fighting potential. It is normal to defend your parents, to argue that they did the best they could, given the circumstances, their pressures, and their restrictions. Your parents may have been the model parents to whom you compared yourself and never measured up. You may feel as if you fall short of your expectations. Maybe they only wanted the best for you, and set such high standards in hopes that you would live up to their expectations. As a result, you may have turned out to be your own worst critic, driving yourself relentlessly to produce and perform in order to gain the respect and approval that you always deeply wanted. Your parents may have been warm and loving toward you, and you may have developed guilt feelings for having such great parents when your friends were raised by less desirable parents, in difficult circumstances. Maybe your parents, with the best of intentions, passed on to you their own limiting beliefs regarding life; their beliefs may have been true in their day, but may be inaccurate today.

if they were stressed at times and took their frustrations out on you? in turn, may have internalized their outbursts as your fault and blamed yourself for their actions. What if one or both of your parents or caretakers were ill, or an alcoholic? You may have felt responsible for their behavior and believed that the way you were flawed. It doesn't seem to matter whether your parents were wonderful, average, or dreadful. The end result is the same. If you are XXXXXXXXXXX, you formed a set of self-protective decisions and beliefs that reinforced the fact that "You couldn't, you shouldn't, and mustn't be who you are, do what your heart tells you, or have everything in life that you desire." I also ask for a show of hands for all those who were taught breathing exercises in school to help manage emotions. This will cause some laughter and, again, rarely will anyone raise his or her hand. I then point out that, generally speaking, the only people in the United States who are taught how to breathe on a wide scale are pregnant women. Modern medicine seems to have acknowledged that breathing techniques help to manage fear and panic, to increase mental focus and clarity, and also to decrease physical pain, but apparently only for women giving birth. But what about the people in the burn unit? Or take a look in the orthopedic ward, where people are in traction with multiple broken bones. And what about our soldiers returning from war with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? They're not taught how to breathe to manage their physical and/or emotional pain. What about everyone else who is ever in pain or frightened or needs to focus amidst a chaotic situation? They're not taught how to breathe. Or a student taking an important test? No. Just pregnant women. It's incredible when you think about it.

I'd been putting off and putting off cleaning the dust out of my computer, and the fan was getting louder and louder. Finally, yesterday I did it, and l felt greatly relieved to have it done at last and pleased with myself for having been able to do it. It went fine and the computer works fine after I finished and the fan is quieter. But I was very unsure of myself. If you open a computer you can destroy it with static electricity if you're not careful. And when I had the side off the cabinet I was worried that I might not be able to get it back on, but it went on easily. And I didn't mess up any of the components or knock them loose. When I finished and put the side back on and plugged all the wires in and turned it on and it actually worked I heaved the traditional sigh of relief. But before I actually did it I'd been unsure and uncomfortable about it and I kept avoiding it. After you have performed your shame-attacking exercise, congratulate yourself, and give yourself a special treat. While you work on the other items in your plan of action, feel free to repeat this exercise as often as you think it would be helpful. Let's be clear: there is nothing wrong with being a morally self-conscious person. As a moral perfectionist, you seek to do what you think is morally right. You have a set of moral principles or a personal moral code, and you seek to honor it. This is an admirable trait, and you are to be commended for it. However, there is a huge difference between trying to do what is morally right and demanding that you always achieve this noble end. Also underappreciated is the role our diet and natural supplements can play in helping the body be a more effective surge protector against anxiety. According to a report compiled by the Harvard School of Medicine, food rich in magnesium (e.g., leafy greens, legumes, nuts), zinc (e.g., oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks), probiotics (e.g., sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt), and B vitamins (e.g., avocados, almonds, etc.) all help the body fight anxiety. These foods increase the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which counteracts the effect of stress on the nervous-system, and dopamine, which produces "feel good" sensations and a sense of accomplishment. As with sleep, a less anxious person may be able to function acceptably well with poorer nutrition, but the more stressed and anxious we are, the more we need to eat foods that enhance our body's stress-diffusing power.