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Why Christmas Shopping is More Stressful Than Parenting

Why Christmas Shopping is More Stressful Than Parenting

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go, you get a whiff of desperation as shoppers rush to their nearest retail mall, fight over precious parking spots, then aimlessly spend the next few hours wandering and wondering what to get for each of the family members and relatives who are probably doing exactly the same thing.

This excruciating ritual has become such that I can think of many reasons why it is more stressful than parenting (I have both a six-year-old and a four-year-old). Here are just three:

1. A covert operation vs an overt confrontation

Christmas shopping would be a whole lot easier if each family member and relative told you exactly what he/she wanted and, more importantly, what he/she is expecting from every other family member and relative. Unfortunately, it NEVER works that way, as every adult will bashfully decline to tell you what she wants and every child will forcefully tell you to get the same toy that he has told everyone else to get.

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You are then left with a covert assignment, trying to ascertain what everyone wants for Christmas through third-party intelligence. Fail this assignment and you will spend even longer time after Christmas, rummaging for lost receipts and returning/exchanging gifts that you spent so long getting in the first place.

When it comes to parenting, however, there is nothing covert about anything. Your kids will tell you exactly what they want and don’t want at all times, often with extreme prejudice and emotional force. While this can, at times, make a grown woman cry and a grown man lose his hair, at least you know exactly where you stand at all times and can decide whether to fight head-on or flee high-tailed.

2. Christmas shopping doesn’t nap, nor go to school

No matter how stressful parenting is, you always get that time-out when the children are at school or in bed. However, Christmas shopping, or the nagging feeling that you need to get off your butt to go do so, is in your face 24/7 at this time of the year.

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TV and radio bombard you with jingles hypnotizing you to go and spend. The World Wide Web showers you with so many Christmas gift ideas that you half wish for the return of those Viagra and singles-dating pop-ups, just for a change. Heck, you can’t even go for a run out in the open without seeing a Christmas shopping billboard every 200m reminding you how pathetically empty the bottom of your Christmas tree is!

To make matters worse, as you get closer to the Day, those children who are usually at school are suddenly not, waking those at home who normally take naps, but are suddenly skipping them. Before you know it, you have to tackle the challenge of Christmas shopping with your hyperactive and/or cranky kids in tow.

3. Financial stress from frivolous spending

From the moment your kids are born, you are mentally prepared for the financial burden that comes with parenthood. Sure, if one actually bothered to sit down and do the sums on how much it costs to raise a child until he leaves home, it would drive him to drink until the kid actually leaves home. But your unadulterated love for your children means you don’t think twice about the money aspect of bringing them up.

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Christmas shopping, on the other hand, consists largely of one load of frivolous spending after another, buying presents you are not quite sure the recipients would like or need, with money you are pretty sure you don’t have but always need. Then you get the credit card statement the following January and trudge back to work knowing exactly why you are doing so.

It’s the thought that counts

Or so they say… but the whole meaning of Christmas, it seems to me, has been lost amid this frenzied materialistic consumerism. So much so that it is not the “thought” but the “dough” that counts.

I shared this revelation with my wife yesterday and her response was “Don’t be cheap, and go and get the Christmas shopping done”. I said the same thing to one of my friends and his response was “Have you been drinking?

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So, I decided to take my 6-year-old and 4-year-old sons to go Christmas shopping. Challenging as they were to control in the crowded shopping mall, we had such a great time hanging out together, having so much fun that I forgot why we were there in the first place. Then I remembered when I saw a Christmas tree with gazillion little wrapped boxes under it in front of a glitzy department store. Sigh…

Featured photo credit:  Child Afraid of Santa Claus via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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