Do you find buying Christmas presents stressful? if you do, you are not alone!
Whether it's buying gifts for adults, friends, relatives, work colleagues or your own children the list can seem never ending. It's one of the many heavy expectations you can feel at Christmas time. Below are 14 tips to help you tame that anxiety around Christmas gift shopping and reduce the stress associated with Christmas.
The two key things to keep in mind when buying Christmas gifts:
🌟 It is experiences that contribute to our happiness. Not stuff!
🌟The simplest way of making gifts easier is to reduce the number of gifts you buy, and the number of people you give gifts too.
General Tips to reduce Christmas Present Stress
*What is a Kris Kringle
A Kris Kringle is when each person buys a gift for just one person in a group, hence reducing excess and cost. There are many variations. Names can be drawn and allocated (Secret Santa) or it can be pot luck – everyone brings a gift. If it is pot luck , here are three variations of how to distribute the gifts.
How to reduce stress when selecting children's gifts
Stress around buying children's gifts comes from a range of sources - wanting to make Christmas special; being presented with a long list of items from your children; you children not knowing what they want; your children having too much stuff (read previous email about a pre-Christmas cull); not having the money to buy what you would like; trying to make up for Christmas' where you have felt disappointed; trying to make Christmas make up for the stressful year you might have had....COVID anyone???
Or maybe you really dislike making decisions and your thinking might go something like mine does on occasion - This is me looking at underwear - "how much cotton is in this?", "is it organic and/or sustainable cotton", "how much is it?" "what size are they?", "what style would they like best?" "what colour /pattern will they like?" "do they really need them?", "if I buy them this, does that mean I need to buy the others underwear as well?", "do the others need underwear?", "but I only recently bought underwear". Maybe I won't buy underwear, and then I leave the shop....
To reduce stress around buying your children gifts start by:
What to buy
🌟 Remember the law of diminishing satisfaction.
The first present your children unwrap will usually give them the greatest joy.
Of course, gifts are not the only potential stress at Christmas, maybe the Christmas Tree presents a dilemma for you. I've got that covered as well - with Three Tips to Reduce Christmas Decoration Stress.
Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds
ps This year I am having a break from the 17th December to the 11th January. If Christmas is causing you stress, book a time now for some support. There are limited spots available.
*updated 6th December 2021
Each year leading up to Christmas when we ask ourselves what we want for Christmas, I find is an inspiring time to actually look at what I have. We know that if you are looking to increase the happiness in your life that putting time and energy into experiences rather than things is the way to go.
However, things have a way of accumulating. Whether you have bought them with good intentions or whether they have come to you as gifts or through other means. And before you know it even things you love can just become part of ‘stuff everywhere’!
Sitting back and looking at your stuff can be a great way of reconnecting with what is important to you. By curating your stuff you can creating an environment that supports your current stage of life, your current interests and is uplifting.
Let’s start by looking at books.
Growing up we had a set of World Book encyclopedias. I loved them. You could open up at any page and learn something new about the world. Looking at them gave me a sense of wonder and thirst for knowledge. I probably loved my fantasy books (Enid Blyton anyone?) where I went into worlds where anything and everything was possible.
It’s the promise contained in books that I love.
As I grew older my relationship with books became a bit more complicated. Books I had to read – school novels, reference books. Books I thought I should read – parenting books, self-help books. And instead of being always about pleasure books also became a mirror reminding me of things I didn’t understand, couldn’t learn or highlighted my inadequacies.
Do you love all your books? Do you smile when you see them, refer to them regularly and rejoice in their wisdom?
Are their books on your bookshelf that taunt you with reminders about your failures? Cookbooks full of recipes you haven’t tried. Self-help books with exercises you haven’t completed. Novels you haven’t read. Parenting books that seem to mock you. Reference books you don’t use (or are way out of date).
Why are you holding on to them?
Marie Kondo speaks of holding things to see if they spark joy. And it’s an exercise I do every so often.
You take the books down from the shelves and hold each one. How does it feel? Do you feel inspired when you hold it? Or do you notice creeping thoughts such as I ‘should’ read that, followed by a sigh or accompanied by a self chastising ‘well that was a waste of money’.
(If you have electronic books that you’ve downloaded, although you can’t hold them you can look at the titles and notice what thoughts and feelings arise.)
From here you have two choices.
If you feel inspired, warm, joyful when you pick up the book - make the recipes, do the exercises, read the novels. Reconnect with the reason why that book is on your shelf in the first place.
If you feel nothing, or the weight of the ‘shoulds’, move the book on. Acknowledge your intentions when you bought the book. Thank the book for the hope it inspired, acknowledge and release any guilt or disappointment in yourself. Depending on the book you could donate them, give them to friends etc. Notice how you feel when you do this.
As you remove the stuff (and fluff) from your life that no longer matters, you make space for reconnecting to what is really important to you.
If you do this I would love to know what you discover. You can email me at email@example.com.
Nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia), not an official diagnosis, but refers to the anxiety people feel when they are separated from their mobile phone. This may be due to not having their phone, lack of service connection, or a dead battery. It can result in a range of anxiety symptoms. It can also be a symptom of social anxiety.
(Not to be confused with the existing, clinically accepted disorder of nomophobia which refers to a fear of laws, rules and regulations).
We all love being able to take photos on our phones, keep up to date with who is doing what, and share our lives quickly and vibrantly with our friends, family and anyone else who is interested. However, it is easy for our phones to encroach too much into our lives. The ironic and sad situation is that despite us wanting to use our phones to increase connections in our lives, it is easy for our phone use to interfere with our ability to feel and be connected. How do you know if your phone use may be interfering with your life?
The ironic and sad situation is that despite us wanting to use our phones to increase connectedness in our lives, it is easy for our phone use to interfere with our ability to feel and be connected
A little checklist of some behaviours that may indicate an unhealthy reliance on your mobile phone
Three ways your mobile phone use may interfere with making connections in your life
1. When you avoid or minimise face to face interaction you are missing the opportunities to develop soft social skills like reading non-verbal communication. If your conversation involves communicating feelings, other than just an exchange of information, you miss the opportunities to choose your tone of voice and enhance your message with non-verbal communication. We have all experienced the situation of trying to figure out what someone 'meant' in a text.
2. If you are 'phubbing' your friend or partner, ie, if you are prioritising taking a call, responding to a text ahead of speaking with the person in front of you, what do you think that does for building lasting connections? You are sending your 'in-person' friend that they are less important than the person on the other end of the phone.
3. If you have anxiety and are using your phone as a distraction, this may stop you learning and using more productive and longer lasting calming techniques. Your phone, like any other distraction technique is only a short term solution.
What if my mobile phone is off?
There is some research that suggests simply being able to see a mobile phone or have it within easy reach, even when it is switched off reduces concentration - "because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone" https://www.sciencedaily.com/releas…/2017/…/170623133039.htm. So if you are sitting with someone but knowing you could be checking your phone, that is distracting.
More research into this is required - but isn't that an amazing thing to think about. So next time rather than have your phone near you and off, maybe experiment with putting it out of sight where you would have to move to get it. And if you think using your phone may be masking some anxiety, there is always help available to learn some more sustainable strategies.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Ross is a Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Essential Self-Care for Psychologists.