Our Stress-Minimizing Shopping Tips This Holiday Season

holiday shopping bags; photo courtesy of Pexels

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, the holiday season is in full swing – only this year, it's complete with the headache of simply negotiating crowds and maintaining safety during a pandemic, let alone planning one's gifting list. But it doesn't have to be so stressful.

A little bit of smart advance planning coupled with self-care and thoughtful practices can ensure that your holiday shopping experience is short on anxiety, and bountiful in healthy practices – both physical and mental. Here are a few guidelines you can follow... 

photo of budget pad, money and calculator courtesy of Pixabay

Set A Budget – for all too many people this season, budgeting will be critical – if they have a budget for holiday expenses at all. For those who plan to celebrate in some form or another, the easiest way not to spiral into worry over how much you're spending on gifts, food, decorations, etc. is to set a budget early and stick to it. Invest in an hour or so to write out a spreadsheet of everything you need, what you can afford to spend on all of it, and plan accordingly. You'll be glad you made the effort.

Picture of gift bags, courtesy of Pexels

Make a list of people and potential gifts – This goes hand-in-hand with the budget planner above, but when it comes to gifting it's impossible to overstate how much easier the process is if you know what that special someone will love ahead of time. Jot down some ideas and, time permitting, maybe even do a bit of online research to see where the best deals are before you shop. And most importantly, don't stress it if you simply can't afford to give gifts to everyone this year – we're all in this together, and we're willing to bet that friends and family who aren't in your immediate circle will understand if you send a season's greeting in the form of a card or such in place of a gift.

Figure out a reasonable shopping strategy – Now this one can be interpreted many ways because, quite simply, someone's definition of "reasonable" can vary significantly. Many folks actively look forward to the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and don't consider it a stressor at all; of course, given the risk of COVID-19 exposure, our recommendation would be to practice as much safety as possible if you are planning to venture out to shop in-person this year. There other options available, too, so let's look at those strategy tips:

Woman wearing a dental guard; courtesy of IStockPhoto

- Regardless of where you shop:  

1. Wear your dental guard! – We've covered many instances where being sure to wear your guard during the day (as opposed to simply while you sleep) is a sound investment to ensure that you aren't grinding your teeth absent-mindedly while concentrating on other activities. Shopping, either online or in person, is no exception – no reason to clench when that one particular item you had your eye on has sold out. But hey, if it's that upsetting, just make sure to protect your choppers!

Person shopping online; photo courtesy of Pixabay

- If shopping online:  

1. Make the most of your browser tabs: Sure, we know some of us have a tendency to open way more tabs than we need at one time, but it helps to have a few open at a time while shopping so you can browse back-up plans. Especially if you're relying on Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals that may go fast.

2. Have a beverage and some snacks handy: No reason why you can't make this a fun, almost social activity! Make some tea or cocoa and a plate of cookies, and treat yourself while you take care of your gifting list.

3. Power up: This should go without saying, but it's no fun to be waiting for a payment to process and all of the sudden your laptop shuts down because you forgot to charge it. Be sure to plug in, or at the very least have a full battery if you decide to take your shopping excursion as far as your porch or patio (weather permitting!)

Masked people shopping, photo courtesy of iStockphoto

- If shopping in-person:

1.  Protect yourself as best you can: If for some reason you absolutely have to venture out to do holiday shopping this season, heed the public safety guidelines to ensure that you are keeping your neighbors – and essential workers! – safe, in addition to yourself. Mask up, have plenty of hand sanitizer and even wear non-latex gloves, if they make you feel more comfortable. You'll have better peace of mind and be able to get in and out quickly if you feel less stressed.

2.  Know when to take a break: Particularly if you are planning to only go out once and get everything done in one day, be sure to carve out time to relax and refresh. It might be a good idea to have snacks and water in the car or your backpack, should you get stuck in a long queue; barring that, definitely leave time for lunch or at the very least, hitting the drive-thru for a hot beverage break if you need it!

shop local sign; photo courtesy of Pexels

3. Shop local!: As we pointed out earlier on, so many are on strict budgets this season. And it's true, some of the big-box stores have the deepest discounts... but they also aren't going to go under if this holiday season doesn't turn a profit. (It will.) Meanwhile, there are many mom-and-pop retailers in your area who are struggling and could really use your dollars at this time of year. Many offer curbside pick-up if you order gifts in advance, and if they are open for limited shoppers you can breathe easier knowing there won't be a huge crowd to wade through. 

Most importantly, take a break and be kind to yourself – Whatever your plans are, what budget you have to spend or how many friends and loved ones you're thinking of this season, know that the best way to negotiate it safely is to put yourself first once in a while. It's absolutely okay if you want to step back from the errands one afternoon and spend it doing something fun – watching your favorite holiday movie, or just snuggling up with a good book and staying warm indoors. Treat yourself kindly, while keeping kindness to others in mind, and your stress levels will drop in no time. 

These holiday tips are part of the way you can supplement your treatment plan for bruxism. Always remember to brush and floss after every meal, and wear your guard when stress seems to be rising. ClearClub's custom-fit, low-cost night guards will help protect your teeth from grinding and clenching, and start as low as $95 for your first guard. Plus, they are shipped directly to your door! Your teeth will thank you. Stay safe, and happy holidays!

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