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SparkLife's Guide to Coping with Back-to-School Panic

SparkLife's Guide to Coping with Back-to-School Panic

By Josh Sorokach

Are you having frequent stress dreams about pop quizzes, dreading that aggravating alarm clock, and feeling inexplicably excited about buying new pencils? That's because it's back-to-school time again! The excitement of a brand new school year brings with it a panoply of emotions, one of which is Panic. Capital P-style panic. But there's no need to stress, friends, acquaintances, and people who Googled the word "panic"— SparkLife has you covered with our official guide to coping with back-to-school anxiety!

Find Your Motivation!

You can find motivation in the strangest places. An insightful book, a dog park, a human being park, an unlabeled park, a baby's cryactually no. That's more sad than motivating. You get to sleep, eat, and watch cartoons ALL DAY, BABIES. Why so glum?

The point is that you need to find something, anything, that will lift your spirits when life/AP Bio class throws you a curve ball. Pick a phrase, song lyric, or literary quote that inspires you and write it on a folder or notebook; if you get stressed or feel blah.com during the school day, you can look at it to remind yourself to make every moment count. OR, screw the notebook idea and get that motivational bad boy tattooed to your forehead. Go big or go home, guys.

Remember That it's All Temporary!

We all replay the day in our head and wonder what could have been. We wish we would have said something profound instead of stammering, "Uhh, you know what's a fun word? 'Tupperware!'" to our crush. But it's a lot easier to stay calm if you don't stress over stuff you can't control. Will an unrequited crush really matter in 10 years when you're the new CEO of Google 2, or starring opposite Emma Stone in the hit movie Shenanigan Abernathy: Pizza Detective? No! Remember the song Can You Feel the Love Tonight? Don't pretend that you don't. There's a specific lyric we always enjoyed:

"There's a time for everyone if they only learn
That the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn"

Are we saying you should live your life according to the Lion King soundtrack? Conventional wisdom says no, but our wisdom says Hakuna Matata makes a whole lot of sense. Sometimes life revolves around its own mysterious schedule, so enjoy the wait.

Don't Stress Out About Other People's Success

It's human nature to compare yourself to your peers. It's also human nature to touch a hot plate when your waiter explicitly states, "Don't touch that! It's hot." Let's stop burning our fingers and our brains, people! The dirty little secret of life is that nobody really knows what they're doing. Everybody is anxious and insecure about something, no matter how cool they appear on the outside. So quit wishing you could be someone else, and appreciate how awesome it is to be you!

Plan a Fun "Reward" to Get You Through a Stressful Week

Two tests, a book report, and an oral presentation on the history of snails, all due by Friday! Yikes. If you have a particularly stressful couple of days, plan a fun event that will motivate you to get through the week. Dinner with friends, a video game binge, a make-your-own-jam jamboree, whatever you want! Everybody travels to the beat of a different drum—and some of those drums are filled with fresh huckleberry jam.

Find Ways to Improve your Happiness

In his inspiring Ted Talk The Happy Secret to Better Work, Shawn Achor posits that if you can raise your positivity in the present, your brain will experience a "happiness advantage" leading to an increase in intelligence, creativity, energy, and (possibly) super powers. Achor theorizes that your brain is 31% more productive when positive as opposed to negative, neutral, or stressed. Achor suggests following these five rules for 21 days to see an increase in happiness.

1. Three Gratitudes: Write down three things you're grateful for everyday.

2. Journaling: Write about one positive experience you've had over the last 24 hours.

3. Exercise:  Sound body = sound mind.

4. Meditation: Does napping count? If so we meditate an average of three times a day.

5. Random Acts of Kindness: Write one positive email praising or thanking somebody in your social network.

Bonus SparkLife rule: Smile at your cafeteria workers. Because, hey, nobody's unhappy when a free sloppy joe gets tossed into the mix.

Don't Worry!

"Don't worry" is the easiest advice to give, but the most difficult to follow. All of us want to be better. We see people everyday who are funnier, more attractive, and don't get a case of "nervous hiccuping" when a pretty person says hi. But the only reason the grass is always greener is because theoretical is often more appealing than reality. The abstract is the pursuit of perfection while reality is the acknowledgment of imperfection. When you really think about it, perfection is kinda boring. Find solace in the endearing absurdity of confidently owning your own unique quirks. You can't change the past and it's impossible to predict the future, so all any of us really have is the moment we're in and the people we choose to spend it with.

Don't overthink it. Have some fun out there and let's make this the best school year yet!

How are you dealing with your back-to-school panic?

Topics: Life, Back to School
Tags: guides, back to school, stress, happiness, confidence, insecurity, anxiety, how to, panic, coping, end of summer

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About the Author
Josh Sorokach

Josh Sorokach is a comedy writer living in New York City. He's a former American Idol winner, three time Olympian, and habitual liar. Follow him on twitter @Joshsorokach.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.

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