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How To Avoid Gift-Giving Stress

While completing your holiday shopping can be exciting, it can also be a daunting and stressful task. Apart from your day-to-day life of going to work, caring for your family and completing household chores, there is now the added pressure of finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones. On top of that, it is important to make sure you find everything in time, you stick to your budget and you do not forget anyone on your list.

To help minimize this gift-giving stress, Dr. Yazhini Srivathsal, psychiatrist at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, shares six simple pieces of wisdom.

1. There is no right way to give gifts.

Buying gifts can bring lots of questions to mind. Is this the right gift to give? Did I spend enough money on it? Is it too generic? Dr. Srivathsal emphasizes that there are no requirements or rules surrounding the gift-giving process. Rather than worrying if you are giving the “right gift,” understand that all that truly matters are your own good intentions in gifting. As cheesy as it may sound, it is the thought that counts.

2. Set a realistic budget and stick to it.

Buying gifts for friends and family all at once can cause some financial stress. Therefore, rather than worrying about how much of a dent you’re going to put in your bank account, set a realistic budget for how much you can spend on gifts and stick to it.

3. Set a time limit.

It can also be helpful to not only budget your money, but also the time you dedicate to gift shopping. Think through which stores you need to visit and then block out a specific amount of time to get what you need. This helps you avoid the pressure of checking store after store to make sure you found the best possible gift and will let you focus more time on enjoying the holidays with your loved ones.

4. Take away the guess work.

If you are really having a hard time deciding what to get for someone, it may be best to keep things simple and ask your recipient for some pointers. If you still want the gift you give to be a surprise, rather than asking exactly what they want, you can ask them their favorite place to shop or their favorite color so that you are steered in the right direction.

5. Don’t make gifts the focus.

Although most of us would be lying if we said that we don’t look forward to giving and receiving gifts, we can probably all agree it is more important to create other non-materialistic traditions. Whether that’s gathering in front of the fire and playing board games or squeezing onto the couch for a holiday movie marathon, these fun traditions are the ones that will be sure to create lasting memories. Looking forward to these fun holiday traditions will ensure that gifts are not the center of the holiday festivities and, instead, are merely one element of your holiday traditions.

6. Give back.

You may even decide to forgo some gifts all together and shift focus to giving back. Maybe instead of buying gifts for each other, you can come together as a family to donate toys to a local charity. You could also think about giving the gift of time by volunteering with your family at the local soup kitchen or food bank. Coming together with your loved ones to help others is bound to fill you all with holiday spirit.

If the holiday season and gift-giving stress is affecting your mental health, call 800-254-4357 to make an appointment with a Banner behavioral health specialist or visit for additional behavioral health resources.

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This article was originally published on December 18, 2018.

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