From your inbox to your text messages, radio, TV, computer screens and conversations with friends, messages of last minute, exclusive time-running-out sales seem unescapable this time of year.
“The added pressure to buy more and spend more grows, and by the time we get to Christmas, we tend to lose focus,” says Stephanie Arguello, MPH, CREATION Health consultant.
So, how do you overcome these enormous, constant-purchase pressures?
You become a mindful shopper.
And Arguello shares her tips on how to master the art of mindful shopping for your whole health this holiday.
1. Be present over presents
“Getting and giving presents can tend to take over the holiday, instead putting the focus on simply spending time with family, friends and loved ones,” comments Arguello. She adds that becoming so caught up in purchasing gifts can cause both emotional and financial hardship, which only adds to personal stress and pressure around this time of year.
“Taking the priority away from a material item and back on the people in your life helps to shift your mindset back to what’s important over the holidays.” And it will also reduce your purchase pressure to shop until you and your wallet drop.
2. Be more aware
You know it’s coming, but somehow, you just never feel quite prepared. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Midnight Madness. Early-Bird Deals. They. Just. Keep. Coming.
So, before the shopping season, take a mindful moment to mentally prepare yourself for what’s ahead, advises Arguello. “It’s hard to ignore it, so just be aware that you are going to see a lot more influence and pressure to shop just about everywhere you go, and on every screen or device in your view.”
With this, Arguello says to “control the controllables.” This means unsubscribing to some email lists, or sending them to an unchecked folder for the holiday season to reduce temptation and the heavy pressure to “click.”
And it seems obvious, but have a mantra for yourself: “I don’t have to buy something just because it’s on sale.”
3. Set boundaries
This takes awareness and preparing to another level. Go into the holiday shopping season with your limits in place. And stick to them.
Arguello recommends, “Make a gift budget and list ahead of time that includes all of the gifts that you must purchase and start your shopping a couple of months ahead of the busy shopping season. Get gifts over time that mean something. Don’t wait until last minute when the tension in stores is higher. Setting a budget and limits also reduces the initial financial impact all at once.”
You can use this same approach and purchase a few “extra” gifts to have on hand. “I always shop throughout the year, picking up some small gifts when I see them on sale. I keep a drawer of these things handy so if a last-minute dinner invitation or event comes up, I have something ready and don’t have to rush out to the store last minute.”
4. Mind your environment
“Your environment influences your health and state of mind. So, if the bustling holiday shopping environment stresses you out, consider shopping during off times or online,” suggests Arguello.
Waiting to shop a week before Christmas is sure to wreak havoc on your stress levels. Having a shopping plan with exactly what item you are buying for a specific person and at what store will help you stay on track and in control.
If you like to shop online, it’s a great way to boost convenience, do your research and price compare. If you want to purchase in-store, starting out online to see what’s available or calling ahead to reserve an item could save a lot of time and keep overspending in check. “Use technology to your advantage,” says Arguello.
5. Encourage the gift of health
This is true for yourself and those for which you are shopping.
Arguello comments, “Think about what message is in the gift you are giving. Gifts that encourage healthy behaviors like working out, such as a nice water bottle or exercise clothes, tell someone that you want to help them reach their personal goals; it tells them that you care.”
And don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. The holidays naturally bring an element of stress, so rest, get enough sleep, be mindful of enjoying the personal time with friends and family, maintain self-care and incorporate healthy nutrition and exercise into your daily routines.
“Don’t put too much responsibility on your plate. Sometimes you can’t go to everything and that’s okay. Give yourself permission to take a break, and have a plan for how you will find balance in your daily nutrition and exercise with the temptations of the holiday overindulgence all around you.” says Arguello.
This could be encouraging family members to go for walk after a large meal, or skipping the sweets and gooey cinnamon buns at the food court while shopping. Every healthy choice goes a long way this time of year.
6. Get creative
Can your holiday gift list be whittled down? If you have a large family, consider a gift swap or secret Santa exchange so that each family member can focus on buying one thoughtful gift for one person. This helps with everyone’s budget and stress.
“Get creative with how your family and friends exchange gifts, and think about how you can make a gift something intangible, like an experience, too,” says Arguello. It’s never too late to redefine what a gift means for yourself and your family.
7. Focus on gratitude
Lastly, Arguello reminds us to refocus on what the season is all about. Find opportunities to show thanks for what you have in your life, find ways to “gift” your time by giving back to the community and encourage your family and friends to do the same.
Helping others is a gift for others and yourself. When you give back, you get back the greatest gift of all: gratitude, hope and faith in the holiday spirit.
Learn more about CREATION Health at Florida Hospital.