Stress Less

By Gabrielle Lamontagne

Shopping is such a hassle. With all of the schoolwork, exams and extracurricular activities to do, when do we find time for shopping? Yet, the seasons of gifts, clothes, food and crafts are upon us!

As the color of the leaves steadily and unwittingly turn from cool greens to bright oranges and somber reds, we have one more thing to fit into our crazy schedules. Personally, my family has several birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate in the month of October alone. Then there’s Halloween, which entails crafts and fun oddities for dorm room décor, candy and food for children and parties, and costumes — my favorite part! November has Thanksgiving and Black Friday (a.k.a National Shopping-At-Super-Early-O’clock-Day), and then there’s December. Don’t even get me started on December. Not even counting all of the religious holidays (Kwanzaa, Hanukkkah, Christmas; let me know if I’m leaving anything out here), us college students have final exams or essays due and a finite amount of time to study and/or shop.

So, how do we handle all of this? With any luck, we know the people for whom we must shop well enough that the process is quick and painless. I’m not that lucky. Shopping for other people can be a painful task, involving lots and lots of time spent at malls and emailing relatives about other relatives in order to seem thoughtful and original. And I have a LOT of family to buy for. How do I handle it? Usually, I make a list at home. I write down all the people I need to buy gifts for, or the ingredients I need to buy, or the amount of candy or the costume pieces. After I find out from relatives about the likes and interests of those people, or the best substitute ingredients, and the best stores for each need: I add those notes to the list. Then I put money in my checking account, so that my Debit card won’t bounce when I swipe it in almost every store in the Fox Run Mall. Hallmark purchases get expensive, let me tell you! Savers, near the mall, is a fantastic resource for the broke college student, in case you weren’t aware.

My family and Christmas go together like Clark Griswold and National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” … so it’s a bit hectic. The organization helps — a lot. Also: Learn how to wrap a present from someone who knows how to make it look good. That’s probably my best skill when it comes to gifts. Wrapping them. And costumes. I’m great at putting together authentic costumes. Only with costumes, though. I’m not good at fashion for the every-day.

Anyway, shopping and lists go together well. Organization, and strict organization at that, are essential for me to survive the holiday months. And maybe a little bit of adrenaline. Okay, a massive amount of adrenaline. I tend to buy things at the last minute, so that boosts my adrenaline just to the right level of energizing and motivation. That kind of stress, eustress, can be very good for overall health. Unlike chronic stress, it gives you a pleasant feeling physically, like exercise, and emotionally, like laughing. This works because adrenaline is a hormone released to activate the “fight or flight” response. Luckily, when it comes to holiday shopping, there is no option for “flight,” so I have to “fight,” and that’s what helps me succeed and manage everything I need to manage for decent grades, good gifts and fun times. So when it comes to the “Holiday Months,” location is irrelevant; the true key is: list, list, list!

Gabrielle Lamontagne is a sophomore double-majoring in French and business administration.