From the blog: How to Stress Yourself Out This Season: Shop Until You Drop
As I write you this love note, the Thanksgiving leftovers have been put away. And we’re still too full to have our pie. I wanted to do a quick check of my email, mainly because I know if I don’t, my inbox is is going to stress me out. Yes, thanks to “Black Friday” and all those places trying to entice you to shop with them? It’s almost as if our email is being held hostage by consumerism.
And I’ll be flat out honest with you: I have moments when I really do love to shop.
There is something primal about finding the perfect pair of boots. Or just the right coffee mug for my morning ritual of caffeine with sugar and cream. I think it’s the traces of our Hunter/Gatherer roots. And then when you tie that desire to hunt and gather in with finding the perfect gift to show someone how much you love them? Well, darling, that can feel like hitting the jackpot.
To be honest, though, the glut of consumerism you see this time of year makes me question where people’s minds (and values) truly are.
Last year, I took a trip to a couple of big box stores a few weeks before Christmas. Honestly, hoping that seeing happy shoppers would fill me with the holiday spirit. Instead, almost everywhere I looked I saw stress rather than joy. And I mostly witnessed people mindlessly piling shopping baskets to overflowing.
To be honest, it makes me a little ill. The rebel in me wanted to suggest store managers post specially trained employees at each register to ask “Do you really think your mom needs a popcorn cart? And does your grandson Tommy need ever single Harry Potter Lego set and a dozen sweaters?”
Now, before you think Santa should put me on the naughty list and ban me from all Christmas goodies, consider this: everything has energy.
Everything from the clothing that you wear, to the books on your shelf, to the coffee cup on your counter. Before you bring a single item into your home (or as a gift into another person’s home) stop a moment to question its worth.
When it comes to energy, I’m not just talking about the price of the item. I’m talking about the weight of an item’s energy in your life. Before you buy something, ask yourself
- Is it an item that will enhance you life? Or your loved one’s life?
- Did you discover an item that will bring pleasure and add beauty? Or will it sit on a shelf and gather dust?
- Are you choosing a classic piece of clothing that can be worn for seasons to come? Or will it sit in someone’s closet waiting to be liberated to Goodwill?
- Will it enhance the quality of life of the person receiving it? (Yes, that includes you).
- Can I afford to purchase it?
And if it isn’t any of these things, why would you purchase it for yourself, let alone for someone that you love?
Gift giving should be a way to show love and appreciation for someone. Not the source of stress.
I simply believe in choosing to shop in a mindful way. When you find just the right gift for someone, then by all means, purchase it. But please don’t over shop and over buy in the hopes of proving your love for someone. Especially if you go beyond your budget. That’s just going to stress you out even more.
We had wonderful Christmases when I was a child. My mom was a wonderful shopper. And she chose great gifts. She was a banker by trade, and did a great job with the budget, too. Though my folks were generous, they also didn’t add more stress to their lives by overspending.
On the flip side, though, my mom was a bit of a shopaholic. Well, not exactly a shopaholic.She often believed that stuff could make you happy.
Yet, when she died in 2010, my sister and I helped our father clean out Mom’s closet. We ended up with twelve 50-gallon trash bags full of clothing, shoes, belts and handbags. Many of the clothes still had the price tags on them. Lots of the shoes were unworn. Let’s not even begin to talk about the beaucoup Precious Moment statues hidden in the cupboards. All of this stuff did not make my mom a happy woman.
This was actually the moment when I began to understand how our stuff can cause stress. And how clutter hurts us.
I also realized that no amount of stuff will make you happy. So, when the Black Friday emails come. And every commercial you see says buy, buy, buy? Well, darling? I wonder how many people are going to succumb to the ads. Go over their budges. Buy stuff that no one needs. Clutter up their homes. And stress themselves out.
And to be honest, up until that time I was a reckless buyer of stuff. I overbought at Christmas. And when I was bored. Or just saw something cute. Without bothering to ask myself if it was truly something I truly wanted.
But after my mom died? I began to shed stuff. And six months after she died, I walked away from practically ever stick of furniture I owned.
I share this story to remind you that this time of year is meant to be filled with love and joy. Not stress and more stuff.
Now, another piece of honesty. JB and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts. This is far different from my first husband. Who complained I never got a “good enough” or “thoughtful enough” gift. Talk about adding stress to the holidays.
So, if you have anyone in your life who causes you to feel as if nothing you gift them will be good enough? Then, darling, for the love of all that is holy, don’t add another layer of stress to your life by overspending or buying too much stuff.
Because stuff doesn’t equal love. Instead, choose a thoughtful gift that comes from the heart. And remind yourself that you cannot control how other people feel or react. And, darling, love and a healthy relationship don’t rely upon stuff to prove love.
When you shop, use your head and your heart.
Find pleasure in buying the perfect gift. Sprinkle your world – and the world of loved ones – with pleasure, beauty, and delight. It’s a gift of self-care when you purchase items for your life that add value to the quality of your life. I’m a big fan of small luxuries.
However, don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping that you lose your way. STOP before you swipe your credit card. Remember that a bargain isn’t a bargain if it’s something no one needs or uses. Ask yourself if the purchase is worth it. Remind yourself that the stress isn’t worth it.
Shopping online makes things seem so easy. And, oh, darling, it’s so easy to overbuy and overspend.
And if you’ve already made purchases you regret, there is nothing wrong with standing in your power as the consumer and returning it.
This truly is a season of giving and I’m not on a mission to discourage you from embracing the season.
My reminder to you this holiday shopping season is to simply do it with moderation. Because, darling, you deserve to have a stress-free holiday.