There are a lot of great things about the holidays: amazing foods, quality time with loved ones, the warm feeling you get from the season of giving. What’s not so fun? The frantic, anxiety-inducing energy that comes from holiday shopping!
If you find yourself struggling in packed stores, suffocating on the frenzied nature of the people around you, know that you are not alone. Over 40 million U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder. High-stress situations like holiday shopping can easily trigger anxiety and panic attacks, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of!
To help mitigate the struggle, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can prepare yourself for when the overwhelm of anxiety strikes during holiday shopping.
Memorize a handful of different grounding techniques. (There are sooooo many different ones; find what works for you!) Take deep, calming breaths. Engage your senses. Distract your mind.
When you start to feel your anxiety building, use your technique of choice! One grounding technique that is rising in popularity is the 5-4-3-2-1 Method; by engaging the mind and shifting your focus, it can help stop the panic in its tracks!
Wishlists Are Wonderful!
One thing that can significantly add to the “doom” of shopping anxiety is uncertainty. Trying to pick between items, or blindly shopping for a gift can derail your sense of control. When you struggle with anxiety, shopping with an “I’ll know it when I see it” approach can really make things difficult!
Instead, try embracing lists! If you know the person well, think of EXACTLY what you want to give them. Write down at least three ideas; that way if your chosen item is sold out, you’re not left grasping at straws! If there’s any chance you’re not sure what they need, want, or would like, ask them for a wishlist. They’ll appreciate your effort, and it will take the guesswork out of the process for you!
(Side note: you should also have a wishlist for yourself! Build it all year, and then you can easily share it with loved ones. This helps you remember things you want for yourself later, as well as taking the pressure off your friends and family who also may experience anxiety!)
Don’t Go Alone
Shopping is always more fun when you have someone to go with! Not only does it provide you with someone to run interference when your anxiety starts to climb, but you also have a person with you to help with gifting ideas and even carry bags!
Ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you, and don’t be afraid to share why. Communicating your mental health needs with them will help them to watch for signs of distress on your part, making it easier for them to take the burden off of you when you are having a difficult time.
Shop Ahead and Not During Peak Hours
One of the easiest ways to prevent holiday shopping anxiety is to think ahead! Instead of planning to Christmas shop at specific times throughout the year (for many, procrastination can be a manifestation of their mental illness), take the pressure off. When you see an item that makes you think of someone, buy it! If you don’t have the funds at that time, save it on a list in your phone to go back to purchase when you are able.
When you do need to shop during the holiday rush, take into consideration peak shopping hours. Avoid weekends, instead opting for weekdays during work hours when possible, and try not to wait until the last week or so before the holiday; that’s when things can be the ugliest! (And if you can, avoid shopping in-person on Black Friday; we all know the chaos that ensues!)
Online Is Always Fine!
Online shopping is so convenient! You can shop at any time of day, don’t have lines to wait, there’s no risk of aggressive and confrontational shoppers, and you can usually still get some pretty amazing deals.
Shopping online also enables you to support businesses and causes that you may not be able to find locally! You can support independent creators, small businesses, and nonprofits in this way, as many will have online shops and can ship things directly to you. (PRSL has our own shop, if you were wondering! Our merch is pretty rad, too…)
When shopping online, just remember to take note of shipping cutoffs; with the increased traffic during the holidays, you don’t want to find yourself high and dry because of a shipping delay!
Whatever way you choose to shop, we hope these tips provide you with some tools to help manage your holiday shopping anxiety. Stay safe, and may the odds be ever in your favor!