Stress Less

By Gabrielle Lamontagne

Since we recently passed Valentine’s Day weekend, let me recap by saying this: Don’t be stressed about not having a significant other to spend the holiday weekend with, or being away from them during this special event. This year, three of my female friends and I spent the weekend in Strasbourg. Together we took a romantic cruise, hunted down chocolate shops, took lots of photos and had a lovely dinner out. Just because we didn’t have significant others, or have them with us, didn’t mean we couldn’t have a terrific time seeing the sights and doing fun things! Being single doesn’t have to be stressful, even on the most romantic days of the year.

That said, don’t be afraid to get out there and try new things! If you go out to a party or a bar, don’t be shy! Say ‘hi’ to that cutie you’ve been staring at for forever. If you don’t, you’ll both always wonder what could have been. Online dating has become very popular again recently and I can say it definitely works for some people — my mom met my step-dad that way. Sometimes, people deserve a second chance. What about trying to make it work with someone you’ve dated before?  Above all, don’t forget to love yourself!

For the couples out there, Valentine’s Day isn’t about flowers, chocolates, jewelry, or other gifts. They’re nice to give and receive, sure, but the day is really about celebrating your relationship with another person. Whether you’re just starting out or are deeply in love, don’t forget the true reason for celebrating Valentine’s Day with your significant other; the fact that you care about each other.

Love isn’t just about romance, though. There’s familial love, friendship, love for an idol, and respect for anyone is another kind of love. I’ve been coming and going from a lot of train stations lately, and I’ve seen a lot of love — for friends returning or family leaving. It’s reminded me of one of my favorite movie lines, from “Love, Actually”:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinions starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there — fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge — they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

As you can see, love is an important part of this world for everyone. Without love from a parent, 20th century scientist Harry Harlow’s study on the psychology of affection proved that children are less likely to develop intellectually or physically. The stress of new scenarios is reduced when you know that there is someone who loves you nearby — which is why we so often bring someone along for “moral support”. However, if the person with you in a stressful situation is someone from whom you feel no affection, the stress you feel can become worse. That’s why friendship and family are some of the most important parts of any person’s life.

So don’t forget to appreciate your friends, family, and yourself all year round. It certainly can take a heavy weight off your shoulders.

Gabrielle Lamontagne is a sophomore double-majoring in French and business administration. She is currently studying abroad in Dijon, France.