TEEN
07/17/2013 03:56 pm ET

9 Things NOT To Stress About This Summer

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Stress often comes from the sneakiest of places and hits us like a ton of bricks. Even in the supposedly carefree summer months -- when you're not loaded down with homework and studying -- stress can rear its ugly head, whether it's anxiety over your "bikini body" or Instagram envy. And when you add stress about being stressed on top of it ("I shouldn't be stressed! It's July!"), you've got enough tension to ruin a perfectly beautiful summer day.

Don't let unnecessary stress sabotage what can be the most relaxing time of the year. Here are nine things not to worry about this summer:

1. Having the perfect "beach body."

shape

Few things can provoke more anxiety during the summer season than wearing a swimsuit in public. Going to the beach, an activity that should be fun and relaxing, can easily become a battle with the mirror. But your self-perceived imperfections don't have to take the fun out of one of the best activities of the summer. When you're feeling body-negative, try to remember that there is no one perfect "bikini body," and find a swimsuit that makes you feel confident in whatever size you wear.

In the words of XOJane blogger Leslie Kinzel, "“I have a beach body. It’s this one, the one I take to the beach.” So try to let go and enjoy lounging poolside -- with exactly the body you have right now.

2. Getting a perfect tan.

tanning legs

Every summer magazine photo may seem to feature a model with pair of perfectly-tanned legs and a bronzed glow, but that doesn't mean you should stress about your not-quite-golden skin tone. Pale can be just as beautiful as tan (just look at Lily Collins, who totally embraces her Snow White skintone), and we shouldn't have to tell you that it's never worth putting your health at risk for your appearance. You probably already know that tanning is pretty bad for you -- so avoid tanning beds, and if you're going to be outside at the beach all day, take these sun-friendly supplies with you.

If Scarlett Johansson can vow to never go out in the sun without a hat or umbrella, surely you can find a way to embrace your natural skintone and keep your skin safe this summer.

3. Having a summer fling.

romance

Ever since Danny and Sandy sang and danced about the joys of "Summer Lovin'" in "Grease," teen movies have mythologized the summer fling. Yes, it can be fun to have a crush at camp or spend the summer going to movies and enjoying the warm weather with your new siggo (and admittedly, we'd all like to have a fling that makes us feel like this). But you know what else is awesome? Spending the summer hanging out with your family and best friends, or just enjoying some relaxing "me time" free from the pressures of the school year.

4. Getting ahead at school.

books

Sure, if you have SATs or college applications coming up, or you've been dumped with a mountain of summer reading books, you'll need to put in a little time at the library. But if you're working excessively to get ahead in your classes next year or try to boost your chances of getting into college, it's time to reconsider your summer priorities. The whole point of summer is to take a vacation, even if you're not going anywhere. Breaks have been linked with increased productivity, better mood and improved energy. Nobody does their best work when they're burned out -- so make sure you take enough time to relax in order to return to school feeling rested and recharged.

5. Keeping tabs on all your friends.

facebook

Summer is the best time (and in some cases, the only possible time) to enjoy the luxury of going off the grid for a while. So instead of constantly checking in with your circle on social media, try unplugging for a while (it sounds crazy, we know). Maybe even go on your family vacation and purposely forget your phone charger. It might feel weird at first, but you'll quickly tap back into the pleasures of living with less technology -- like a slower pace and more face-to-face interaction -- and we'll bet your anxiety levels will drop down a few notches. Trust us: A mental snapshot is often just as good as a filtered one. Which brings us to our next point...

7. Doing nothing.

meditation tips

Yes, doing nothing can be good for you! Let go of your need to fill your day with constant activity and distractions, and just let yourself enjoy doing nothing. There's no reason to feel guilty about enjoying a little good old-fashioned boredom. Stick your head up there in the clouds, let yourself daydream, get bored, and go through your day without a schedule. You might be surprised at how liberated -- and stress-free -- you feel.

6. Working all summer.

summer job

Working at Starbucks or in your dad's office this summer? OK, so you might be a little jealous of your friends who are lounging at their beach houses, but you might actually be happy in the long-run that you worked a summer job. A 2005 survey found that high school students who enter the work force exhibit higher levels of confidence than those who don't get their first jobs until later in life. Not to mention that you'll learn valuable work and personal finance skills. It's worthwhile -- trust us.

8. Reinventing yourself for the new school year.

high school hallways

The fresh start of a new school year is a great time to reflect on what you want and to set goals for the semester ahead. But don't get too caught up in feeling like you need to reinvent yourself, or come back to school with a whole new wardrobe, haircut and group of friends. Use the summer to reflect, set your own goals, and if you want to, change your appearance in ways that make you feel more like you -- but don't do it to please anyone else. The "best school year ever" only happens once you've finally given yourself the freedom not to care what anyone else thinks of you.

9. Trying to have as much fun as everyone else.

instagram

Social media has a sneaky way of making us feel inadequate -- even if we have absolutely no reason to. And of course, it's easy to make your life look perfect on Facebook and Instagram, but these carefully selected and perfectly filtered images never tell the full truth about someone's experience. Instead of letting vacation envy get the best of you and trying to keep up with how much fun it looks like all your friends are having, remember that this summer is your own. Focus your energy on relaxing and having new experiences -- and the fun part will take care of itself.

Tell us: What are you vowing not to stress about this summer? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen!

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