Holiday shopping can be trying and exhausting. This article will help position yourself in control of your shopping goals and have fun in the process.
Shopping is part of our daily lives at all times of the year. However, the most important part of the year for shopping is right now, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We just went through Black Friday, survived Cyber Monday and are bracing ourselves for the next few weeks of shopping madness.
While there is a lot of anticipation, excitement and fun in getting out our shopping lists and plan trips to Malls, this can also be a time of limits stretching by pushing ourselves to exhaustion and financial strain. This is particularly true this year, with the economic recession still in full swing and financial resources running low for a lot of folks.
Between 15 to 28 million of the American population are compulsive shoppers, and about 1 in 4 shoppers have difficulties setting healthy shopping limits and respecting them. For all these people, holiday shopping can be a recipe for disaster.
But even for those who don’t fit in these statistics, healthy shopping may still be more a fantasy than a reality. Some may shop because they want to impress, or to be accepted and liked. Others may set a spending budget, but then ignore it. They may buy gifts they like, rather than thinking about what the receiver might like. Others still may procrastinate until the last minute and then dash to the stores in a panic, without enough time to make good planning and decisions.
Research shows that if people define and adhere to reasonable and feasible plans, they are more likely to succeed in keeping anxiety low and control their impulsivity. “Ulysses contract’ refers to the deal that the Greek hero made with himself in his Odyssey. Knowing that his ship would have to sail by the sirens, whose voices were so seductive that no man could resist them, he tied himself to the mast ahead of time. In his way he ensured his emotions would not control his decisions.
Likewise, you can strike a deal with yourself BEFORE you head out to the malls, so you can better steel yourself against temptations later on. In fact, the more time you spend planning, organizing, thinking and budgeting, the better results you will achieve.
Here are some useful ways of keeping yourself in check, and prevent problems later on.
Set a number. How much money do you plan to spend?
Make a gifts list and adhere to it.
Start your shopping early
Break your shopping in a few manageable shopping trips, rather than trying to do everything in one.
Use cash or debit cards only. We all know the main risks of using credit cards: huge bills in January and a lot of hidden charges.
Practice purposeful shopping. Go only where you need to go and buy only items on your list.
Take breaks. Meet a friend or relative for lunch or tea. This breaks up your shopping time and shifts the focus of your activities.
Remind yourself this is the holiday season. Make this experience as much fun as you can, so you will be in a good mood and still have plenty of energy for holiday gatherings and celebrations.
Daniela Roher, Ph.D. has been a psychotherapist for over thirty years. She helps her patients identify and understand their deeper motivations, conflicts, wishes and fears that are causing and maintaining painful emotional symptoms. She believes that the only way to achieve lasting relief from these symptoms is to identify their root causes and process the emotions that are associated to them. She calls her approach the love of conflict because it helps her patients get to the heart of who they are. For more information on Dr. Roher click here.