Sunday, December 20, 2015



Being capable of just merely popping out to the store and getting a gift isn’t something that an individual living with chronic pain can just include into their day.  It involves a lot of activity, often needing to be done in stages, to hopefully make them doable. Just getting ourselves ready to go can do us in before we even leave the house!  It often requires lying down and possibly even taking a nap after getting ready. This is followed by having to drive to the store, walk from the parking lot into the store, more walking throughout the store, doing all the searching, hopefully finding your much treasured gift , or gifts, for your loved ones.  And THEN, there is the standing and waiting in line to buy your gifts! Yet followed by having to get back to your car and driving home! Oops! That was just going to one store, wasn’t it…hmmm…Christmas shopping usually requires multiple stores! That leaves us in a bit of a predicament for sure! Either there will be many sad faces on Christmas morning or we have to get to the other stores to finish collecting our treasures! Humph! What to do?! What to do?!
Image result for CHRISTMAS SHOPPING STRESS FREE IMAGESShopping is serious business! On a shopping pain scale (one I just made up in my mind for effect here), it is physically tiring and taxing for someone without chronic pain; but for those of us with chronic pain it would be considered enormously grueling and strenuous. It can lead to a severe pain flare leaving us anguishing for days, if not longer! Shopping isn’t just going out, popping into the store and simply picking something up, nor is it browsing with a dear friend and afterwards heading out to a relaxing lunch to have the benefit of much needed socializing and laughing, as it was in our former life. But this is our new “normal”. (As opposed to the normal way things use to be. You will notice I use the term throughout my books and blog).  Shopping is now an activity many of us steer clear of with much passion for self-preservation!
If you’re anything like me, just doing a quarter of all that can knock you over from extreme exhaustion and pain! I’d be holding back tears and heading to my car to lie back in my seat, shaking! I’d do deep breathing to try to get the pain to subside enough so I could sit up and eventually drive home! Once there I’d throw myself into bed and have a good cry!  Actually, that WAS me! I tried it! Once! Once, in five years! I didn’t want my hubby to have to come home from work and take me grocery shopping because he had other things to do! I thought if I could just do that one thing that would help him out!
As complex as it is, we still desire to go out and purchase treasured gifts for our loved ones! Especially for Christmas! However, living with chronic pain, we might want to take a look at how we can streamline the complete shopping extravaganza to make it as achievable as possible! Thus, leaving us with the hope of not having the horrid experience described above! Our pain is inevitable, however, making choices of implementing some simple strategies can hopefully eliminate having pain flares that can last for days or longer!
There are a number of things you might want to mull over regarding shopping. Perhaps taking a look at the multitude of people you have been buying all these treasures for in your life! It seriously can add up to a whole lotta labor of love with having to go through all we discussed above! You, without a doubt know what it is like, for living with chronic pain doesn’t keep any secrets on how it affects you!
Let’s look at some things we can put into place to formulate ways of making going out shopping easier on us. Well, nothing is easy for us dealing with chronic pain; let’s say “more doable”, leading to reducing energy and time expended.
·         Organize yourself – having a list prepared before you even begin shopping is essential! Make a list of who you would like to buy for and write down possible gift ideas. That will save you from using up valued time and energy from having to walk around stores and searching for an item that you may not know if it will even fit the persons personality or not! Some people enjoy wondering around stores and malls at Christmas time with all the spirited, and not so spirited, people and decorations. If you are like me, walking around the store and having to focus, along with so many distractions and people bustling about, is incredibly over-stimulating. I end up overwhelmed, in pain and wanting the nearest exit! I don’t want to sound like an old curmudgeon elf, but that’s just the way it is for many dealing with chronic pain. It’s reality! It’s our new “normal.”
Image result for CHRISTMAS SHOPPING LIST FREE IMAGES  Wish Lists - Ask those difficult to buy for to provide you with a list of items they would enjoy. This helps you avoid buying gifts that people don’t need, want, or care for.  It also saves you from spending time and energy trying to figure out what others would enjoy. Many stores have wish lists on their websites! I ask my kids to use Amazon’s wish list because I have Amazon Prime and get free shipping with the yearly fee. If you order a lot of items on line that can be a huge savings!
·         Getting ready for the outing - hopefully you had a good night sleep and are having a low pain day for when you decide to go out shopping. Make sure you can rest a bit after getting ready before heading out the door. You know your body and what it needs. Be good to you! Sit and rest at the stores as chairs and benches are available. It will possibly help to have energy to do more!
·         Have an Itinerary – for when you are ready to go shopping! It is a must for me! Planning out my route of stores I must go to is not just an obsessive compulsive behavior of a time-manager; it truly saves time traveling and leaves off a much exasperating detour back to where you once were, exclaiming “Dah! I forgot to go to that store! It was way back where we were a half an hour ago!” Having a plan saves time and money on gas. Not to mention the frustration factor!
·         Driver and helper – it is extremely accommodating to include someone to be able to drive and help carry the goods! They can also drop your off at the door and pick you up! Saving valuable energy! You know how strenuous and overwhelming the activities of shopping are, as well as how drained you will be afterwards, leaving you scarcely able to drive home. It’s exhausting enough for anyone! But when you have that extra uninvited chronic pain guest hanging on you the entire time, it makes it all more challenging! Remember, drivers need to be treated like gold! Consider buying them lunch, a special gift or something else they may enjoy!
  • Shop in advance - Start shopping months in advance to decrease the stress of the chaos as you get closer to Christmas. There are many good deals, days with almost no other shoppers in the stores. Make sure to obtain gift receipts to tape to each gift! That way the receiver will get the full refund if need to return or exchange the gift.
  •  Shop throughout the year - as you come across deals! This really helps to be prepared. Some start right after Christmas for great deals! Make sure if you do, have one single place at home to store your finds! As well as a list of what you buy. Or you will be like me and come up with a gift months later! My kids still joke about it to this day! Makes for some surprises months after Christmas!

  • Shop online – Going out to stores, fighting the crowds and standing in long lines, while on a treasure hunt, may be fun for some, but for those with chronic pain it can be extremely physically demanding!  Shopping on line has become my favorite way to shop. It was a bit puzzling at first, but after you get the hang of it, you just might love it!

    • Price comparison - You can do a Google search for items you want to purchase to find where items are available, as well as the price comparisons of different stores. This prevents you from having to go from store to store on a hunt! If you have an iPhone there are many apps available for checking prices. Not only that, it saves gas money, and most of all physical pain that comes with all the hustle and bustle of going here and there! AND many stores have free shipping with a certain amount spent, or have free “ship to store” and hold it until when you are able to get there to pick it up! I like those options!
    Keep your wish lists ready for when you see sales and shipping specials. If you have not tried shopping on line and are not real comfortable with it, give yourself some practice with a few items.  (You can send them to me and I’ll let you know how it goes!)  I remember when I first started doing this after my first neck surgery, it was a bit challenging; however it is now my preferred way to shop. Making a few clicks is much simpler! Going to the door to get the boxes that have been delivered is so much easier than going out to stores! Who doesn’t love having deliveries come to their home? FUN!! AND many have easy returns! You just contact the store and let them know as to why you want to return the item and they email you a shipping label and a return slip to print off. You place the item back into the box it came in with the return slip inside, tape the box shut and stick the address label on it. They call for the pickup. They are usually there the very next day!
    • Ship to Store - Many stores allow you to order on line and pick up at the store for free. That is good if you can’t afford the shipping or don’t meet the criteria to have it shipped free to your home. Image result for CHRISTMAS SHOPPING ONLINE FREE IMAGES
    • Shop smarter - instead of buying presents that some people won’t know what to do with, consider buying gift cards to restaurants, bookstores, stores you know they shop at, memberships to museums, zoos, as well as to local plays, local businesses, etc. Many stores have a gift card section, including local stores.  You can also buy many online or call the store and they will mail them to you! Easy Peasy!
    I don’t know about you, but between the pain roaring, the noise and over stimulation of all that is going on at stores, as well as having to make multiple decisions, it is too much for me anymore! I do all the shopping I can on line! However, I do enjoy a stroll with the hubby to see the Christmas lights at the mall, getting one of those hot pretzels and if I happen across a gift, that’d be a surprise find!
    If you decide to do all your shopping at the stores, (Or just like to get out and browse around) just remember the basic suggestions to make it as physically possible for you as possible, so you can hopefully not have a full blown pain flare! Don’t forget to take your wish lists of what you would like to purchase for each person! This will save a lot of time and frustration!  Do try to go on a low pain day, a time and day when there will be less shoppers and see if you can get a driver to help with carrying packages as well. And, make sure you buy yourself something fun!
    • Don’t forget the wrapping paper, gift tags, gift bags, tape and bows!

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