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Stop sweating the small stuff.

WANT TO MAKE THIS THE LEAST STRESSFUL SCHOOL YEAR YET? THE SECRET IS LEARNING TO PUT LIFE'S LITTLE WORRIES IN PERSPECTIVE.

It's the very last night of summer vacation. You've laid out your most rockin' back-to-school hoodie-and-cargo-pants combo to wear tomorrow. You've stocked your new Tommy bag with poppin' fresh school supplies. After setting your alarm clock for 6:30 a.m. sharp, you put on your 'jammies, slide into bed and cruise straight off to Snooze City. Not!

Instead of catching ZZZ's, you find yourself wide awake, frettin' and sweatin' over every last detail that could sabotage this school year right out the gate. What if you trip on the bus and fall on your face right in front of the homeroom hottie? What if you don't get any classes with your BFF? What if your locker is 30 million miles away from civilization? What if every single dumb little thing that could possibly go wrong actually does go wrong, and your school year is cursed from Day One?

You need to know you've got the power to make this year totally awesome. It's time to stop torturing yourself with confidence-zapping, brain-draining worries.

Y Yes, it's utterly natural to brood over certain major issues in life, like a serious illness in your family. Lots of times, though, everyday worries get blown way out of proportion. Like, why obsess over whether your hair will look like a frizzed mushroom by third period?

The trick, you see, is to put what's dogging you into the proper perspective. Stomp out the anxiety so you can solve stuff straight-up. Retrain your brain and, in no time, the stress sandwich you've been chewing on will digest into some dorky dilemma you'll laugh off by lunchtime. Letting go of worry means letting go of stress. And less stress is a great way to guarantee an amazing school year! So let's get started.

KNOW WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL AND WHAT YOU CAN'T

Worrying can make you feel insecure, irritable, squirrelly as all get out--and weirdly in control of the sitch. This is because when you sit and stew about something you can't do anything about, you trick YOU CAN'T yourself into feeling like you're doing something about it.

Of course, there are tons of times you'll find yourself faced with trouble you can successfully turn around. If you get a C-minus on your first bio test, you can go to your teacher and ask for help right away. On the other hand, stressing over whether your cross-country track meet is going to get rained our this Saturday is pretty darn pointless. Not much you can do about the weather.

Also tough to control? How other people behave. You have no power over what that mean chick in your gym class says about your handsprings. What you can control is how you react to what she says about you. If it isn't true, ya just gotta let it roll. What if somebody called you a pink elephant? You know you're not a pink elephant, so why worry?

KEEP IT REAL.

Don't let your grand hopes and expectations affect the way you foresee a scenario. You're not a predictor, so why worry yourself silly? Here's a perfect for-instance: You hear through cafeteria chit-chat that Dave, the hottie you've noticed in homeroom, likes you. The Welcome Back Dance is next Friday. You daydream over and over about the dress you'll wear that night.. what you'll talk about with Dave as the two of you slow dance.. how he'll be your new BF! Except the days are flying by, the dance is getting closer, and Dave isn't making any moves to ask you. You're wigging out big-time.

It's totally cool to be optimistic and hopeful. But don't let your expectations swell too big. It can lead to mega-worry and, in the end, mega-disappointment. Keep a realistic outlook. Say to yourself, "Dave seems pretty groovy but, hey, I barely know him. Maybe he's thinking of asking me to the dance; maybe he's not. Either way, I'll just hang and see what happens."

CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK

Are you putting pressure on yourself to be perfect? Do you study feverishly to get I straight A's? Do you worry constantly you'll make a mistake--like raise your hand and give the wrong answer in class or accidentally forget a homework assignment?

If so, you're probably about ready to blow a gasket. Livin' life under the gun ain't much fun. Pop out of yourself for a minute and consider this: IF your BFF were worrying herself sick over school, what would you tell her? That she's only human, right? OK, so be your own BFF!

LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

The easiest way to do this is to ask yourself a simple question: "Is whatever I'm chewing my nails off over really going to matter a year from now? Five years from now?" Sometimes, sure, the answer will be "yes." Most of the time, though, you'll find the answer to this question will be" no way," and you'll see your prob is not only temporary, but easier to manage than you thought it was.

Petrified you'll be the only one back-to-school without that perfect new outfit? Think about last school year... who really remembers what anyone was wearing? All that matters is that ya had a blast and are moving on up!

TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS

You can snuff out worry even before it starts! How? By making sure you're as prepared as you can possibly be. Say you'll be trying out for the class musical. As soon as possible, start practicing your audition song. Sing it into your bedroom mirror. Sing it into a tape recorder. Sing it to your dog. Sing it till you can sing it in your sleep. Figure out how you're going to stand onstage, and train yourself to smile and make eye contact with your drama teacher while you sing. By covering all the bases well before tryouts, you'll prevent freak-outs, plus your confidence will shoot sky-high.

ASK YOUR PEEPS FOR THEIR P.O.V.

How you perceive a sitch can be radically diff than how your BFF, 'rents or sis might see it. To get a fresh take on the situation, run whatever's stressing you out past somebody you trust. You don't necessarily have to take anybody else's advice, but just bouncing your worries off somebody else can be hugely helpful. Chances are, you'll instantly see a new way to attack the problem through your crew's point of view.

ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES

Ever wake up in the morning and start trouble-shooting before you even get out of bed? You think, "Oh, no! My algebra quiz is getting handed back today. I hope I didn't bomb it." Then you think, "I've gotta do my oral report in history, too. What if I freeze up?" Continue with this kind of negative self-talk and, by the time breakfast rolls around, you'll barely be able to choke down your Cheerios.

Instead of deciding from the get-go that everything's going to be icky, why not wait and see what your day brings? Trust yourself enough to know that you can handle any bumps along the way. Why get yourself all twisted into pretzel knots when it's totally possible that your day could turn out simply fab? So dear your head, take a few deep breaths, stay calm, and resolve to just live life. The world will look a whole lot brighter right away.

DISTRACT YOURSELF

Whenever you feel your brain doing the stress sizzle, take five. Do something you love. Pick up your fave book, and read a page. Pop in your new Ultimate Dance Divas CD and sing along with Pink. Grab the phone, and call a bud. Get your mind off what's bugging you, and one of two things will happen: 1) You'll forget all about what's worrying you, or 2) when you get back to thinking about it, you'll feel refreshed and can better deal with figuring out a solution.

GET THE GIGGLES

Being able to laugh at yourself is way healthy anytime. And when it comes to worry-inducing woes, a good chuckle is extra-therapeutic. How come? Laughing releases physical tension in your body, which in turn relaxes your mind. Your perspective gets instantly clearer, and you can reason out your issues a whole lot better. So yuk it up!

LET WORRY BE YOUR GUIDE

Yes, we know--we've been telling you to stop worrying. But worry can be useful if it focuses you on important stuff you need to pay attention to. If you're worried you won't have enough time for your friends this semester, recognize it now don't overbook your schedule with activities that aren't crucial. Prioritizing the things that are important to you means you're a responsible person--and that's very cool. Now, wipe that brow and shake off the stress. Feel better? Good.
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Author:Mulcahy, Lisa
Publication:Girls' Life
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2003
Words:1486
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