[Part 2: GIFTS] Mental Health Tips to Keep You Sane During the Holidays
Next up for the holiday series? It's all about the pressure to buy gifts for Christmas. It's the nonstop advertisements, people talking about what they want, traditions you want to keep, influencers telling you what you need. (I'll say - a lot of the time I trust influencers. Just never trust one who says you need a Keurig. They have no taste. That's watered down coffee. I'll die on that hill.) I digress. Let's get to it.
Feeling pressure to bust your budget on gifts?
This is a hard one, especially for people-pleasers. And Enneagram 2s. Not only are you bombarded with ads of really cool gift ideas these days, but you're also thoughtful - and you want to get a gift that's really going to put a smile on that person's face. This is a good example of how many people not only overextend their time & effort during the holidays, but also their money. Here's the hard truth: Going over budget on Christmas gifts is going to be more stressful than you not feeling like you got them the “perfect” gift. The pain of overspending your money or maxing out your stress on Christmas gifts will last much longer than the smile on their face when they open their gift. I promise you that. Free up your mental space and energy to enjoy the holiday season instead of stressing and pressure-buying gifts. I want you to ask yourself this question… “Where do my expectations to get the perfect gift come from?” If the answer is “myself” - then we can change that. Give yourself some grace and share your care for others' happiness with care for yourself. You may not realize it, but paying attention to your finances is a huge act of self-care that a lot of us don't consider as self-care. If the answer is “someone else” - then let's reconsider what type of person you have in your life who expects you to get a perfect or expensive gift. I'm not saying you need to cut them off completely, but maybe this is the year you start scaling back. If you stick to it, they may get used to it. And if they don't get used to it, that's on them.
Want some good options for gift-buying while navigating the pressure?
Determine your budget and play it safe. This will leave room for things like unexpected shipping costs or that “extra” thing you see that you know the other person will really love.
Get some ideas going for 1 person at a time and keep an eye out on sales for different things. Try not to keep your sights set on ONE thing because if it never goes on sale, you may just end up buying it full-price. Even just trying to take advantage of sales can decrease your guilt. It's the effort that counts!
Consider opportunities for you to craft something or DIY. One of my favorite gifts I ever gave was a homemade Christmas wreath I gave my mom! Get creative with cute ideas for small gifts like hot chocolate or s'mores kits in mason jars. (Consumables as gifts are also making a huge comeback!) This makes a great idea for people we typically give smaller gifts to, like coworkers. Creating your own gifts can also be relaxing - don't we all need a little more of that during the holidays?
The big takeaway: let's all give each other a break on the gifts and realize that maybe we don't have to pressure ourselves so much. Deal?
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Greta Strickland, MS Licensed Professional Counselor
Greta has managed her own private practice in Blue Springs, MO since 2015 providing therapy to women who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and all of life's beautiful but complex stressors.
When she's not working, you can find Greta watching Big Brother with her husband, singing made up songs to her daughter, and sneaking "people food" to their golden retriever.