Shopping for gifts should be a fun and worthwhile experience.

Ochsner primary care physician Edith Mbagwu, M.D. (30819 Hwy. 16, Denham Springs) reveals her five tips to surviving the holiday shopping season. "The holidays are a time to enjoy the company of friends and family," stated Dr. Mbagwu. "Shopping for gifts should be a fun and worthwhile experience. Buying online is an option but heading out for fresh air and exercise can be rewarding."

Here's her list, check it twice:

1. Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it between stores. Chances are you weren't the first person to touch that handbag. Flu activity is high in the Capital Area and the proximity of people during holiday get-togethers increases the likelihood of spreading the flu. Don't be naughty, get a flu shot!

2. Window shopping is fun and walking around a mall is good exercise. You'd be surprised how much value there is in walking around versus sitting on the couch.

3. Some stores use scents to manipulate shoppers into spending more. Suck on a mint or chew a piece of mint-flavored gum to help block out the smells.

4. Skip the crazy crowds by shopping right before closing - preferably after dinner. Who doesn't love mall food? – your waistline.

5. Get some earbuds and jam to your favorite playlist while scouring for great bargains. This helps reduce stress and studies show you are more likely to stick to your budget when your anxiety levels are lower.

Hopefully, by following these five simple steps, your holiday shopping experience is more enjoyable and stress-free. In the event a loved one or co-worker isn't feeling well, Ochsner has two new Urgent Care locations, Highland Park in Baton Rouge and Lagniappe Center in Gonzales, open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Ochsner Anywhere Care virtual visits offer immediate access to a healthcare provider from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Free prescription delivery is now offered to your home or office within a 20-mile radius of any Ochsner pharmacy.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an Ochsner practitioner, call 225-761-5200 or visit www.Ochsner.org/info to schedule online.

Contributed by Ochsner