DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m leaving for college in a few weeks, and I’m overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done. I have to say goodbye to my friends, spend more time with my parents, order everything for my dorm, pack for school and make time for myself. It feels like a whirlwind of stuff must get done, which leaves me feeling both stressed and scared at the same time. How do I make everything feel less overwhelming? — College Stress
DEAR COLLEGE STRESS: This is where organization comes in. I’m a big believer in writing everything down. Start by making subject categories – – friends, family, dorm room, etc. Under each category, itemize exactly what you need to do or who you need to see. List each friend so that you don’t forget anyone. Prioritize peo- ple and duties. You can color code or boldface the most important tasks. When you have completed them, check them off so that you are clear about what you have accomplished and what’s left. You can create timelines so that you don’t leave everything until the last minute.
Be sure to include time when you can relax and take in the magnitude of the transition occurring in your life. It’s a big deal to leave home and go away to college. Instead of thinking of it as overwhelming, consider it exciting. Also, know that it doesn’t mean that you are closing the door on your current life. You are opening the door to your future.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend has recently been wanting me to join the gym with him. He does exercise classes each morning for an hour or two because he is trying to lose weight. Although I think it would be fun to go to the gym together, I have severe gym anxiety. The thought of exercising while being over- weight stresses me out. I’m also scared to commit to a gym membership in case I give up and waste money. Should I still try out the gym? What should I do? — Gym Anxiety
DEAR GYM ANXIETY: The best transition you could have for getting fit is a buddy who is doing the same thing. Sounds like your friend is also over- weight — and he has demonstrated commitment to improving his health. That means you will be side by side with someone who cares about you and who shares the same goal. Go with him and keep your focus on yourself and him. Don’t get caught up with looking around and comparing yourself with others. Practice tunnel vision. Set goals for yourself. Keep your eyes on the two of you. Encourage each other and track your personal success.
In terms of the membership, find out if you can come as your friend’s guest for a few visits to see how well you take to the gym experience. Sometimes that is possible. Some gyms allow for monthly memberships. Find out if you can sign up for a month to check it out. But go for it. Push past your worries. Your health is worth it.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAM- LEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and acti- vate their dreams. You can send questions to askharri- firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.