Breaking down before your breakdown

Simple solutions to regain your sanity


(Collegian file photo)

By Rebekah Panaro, Collegian Correspondent

Now is not the time to check out and skip classes. Now is the time to double down for all hours-study sessions in the library and to fill out your study guides. Of course, if you’re already stressed, read on for ideas on checking off holiday shopping lists and regain your sanity all at once.

Finals season is scarier than #SpookySzn, by far. During finals, you can make or break your grades. So even though it may seem contradictory, it’s actually important that you take a break from studying or you risk losing all that precious information you crammed into your brain.

At the Maplewood Shops, 2 Conz Street, Northampton, Mass., you can find everything you need to re-grasp your grip on reality. Stepping through the doorway on the quiet street corner, reality slips away as you step into rooms of holiday-scented air. Everything from bulk medicinal herbs and oils to gifts for the most difficult individuals lies past the doors of Acadia Herbals. Open since 2003, they have offered almost daily opportunities to release one’s stress through a simple walk through the shop. The welcoming aroma of herbs and tea will envelop you.

Worrying about school or relationship troubles? Check out the “Calm Focus Formula” to help with anxiety and settle those nerves. Arcadia has this solution for you in the form of essential oils. Don’t be fooled: these little bottles of concentrated liquid offer sweet smells at varying prices.

If you’re strapped for cash, it might be worth checking the price before you fall in love with it. Before your finals, dab a drop on your wrists and around your neck. If you get nervous, smelling something that brings you comfort may give you the few seconds of focus you need to clear the fog of anxiety so you can finish your exams with ease.

My personal recommendation is a $5 bottle of Lemongrass essential oil. When I get stressed, I open my little bottle I keep in my desk (and sometimes on my person) and waft it toward me. It reminds me of summers with my friends and helps me to level myself when I feel overwhelmed.

For stuffy noses, I absolutely recommend a bottle of Eucalyptus (which is also conveniently $5). Dab a drop or two under your nose and it should help clear some congestion. Don’t rely on my word alone, go to Acadia Herbals and test it yourself.

And while you’re there, two scents to look out for are “Holy Mint” or “Mint with a Twist.” Imagine you’re smelling the season through gentle hints of mint and woods. You can take this with you so when you’re traveling home you can take a piece of the holidays in Amherst with you.

Acadia Herbals offers something for everyone, especially those who are the most difficult to shoe for during the holiday season. Offering worry-stones to soaps and jewelry, you won’t walk out empty handed.

Have a cousin that’s on a health kick? Elderberry apple shots fit in smoothies with a taste of sweet flavor without controversial GMO ingredients. Does your significant other like aesthetics? Various jar and vial sizes can hold an ounce or more of medicinal or culinary herbs, guaranteed to brighten their day both through scent and use.

Nothing says “I care about you” like a bottle of hand-selected herbs. Or you could get them a tasteless gift card from a big box store…

Toasted White Chocolate Mocha (photo courtesy of “Starbucks” official Facebook page)

Now that you’ve gotten yourself back together, you should treat yourself to something special at the local Starbucks. Walking up the sloped ramp and through the heavy wooden door, you’ll be greeted by a gentle rustic theme and soft and fragrant smells of coffee beans. In the evening hours, a warm and comforting glow will cast slight shadows across the walls. Comfy chairs are grouped in a circle formation, but in a way that isn’t dependent on interaction with those sitting in it.

My favorite drink to get me in the holiday mood is either a hot chocolate with whipped cream or a toasted white chocolate mocha with whipped cream and sugar sparkles. Sided, of course, by a snowman cookie or a peppermint brownie cake pop. If you feel you have deserved a treat, by all means, treat yourself. You need to take a break before break, or the thought of break will break you down.

Rebekah Panaro can be reached at [email protected]