Shopping around the holidays is like no other, trying to find the perfect gift or right food for the table makes it super faster paced and highly energized. While the basics of why we shop is actually a beautiful thing, to bring loved ones together with gifts and food, for many shopping around the holidays is a little monster of its own, taking us further away from loved ones and ourselves.
There’s something I’ve learned people do as a defense against difficult feelings like anger, pain, and shame……they do more. I see it all the time in my practice the drive to do more activities, make more plans, or create more projects to make negative feelings go away. During the holidays “doing” can mean: finding a better gift, making a better turkey, or having a cleaner house. This kind of defense is called a manic defense and it is very common in American culture.
The effects of the manic defense are strong, we can only go so fast, the faster we make ourselves go the more this hurts our body and mind. Physically stress wears us down and impacts our longevity. Emotionally moving fast distracts us from our inner world and our relationships with others.
I believe one cause of this heightened need to shop around the holidays is due to the extra stress many feel in spending time with their loved ones. While most have pleasant memories of loved ones, no family is perfect, and the good also comes with the bad. That’s what it means to be in a family.
So to stay present in this holiday season, try to slow down early, and remember shopping and anxiety bring us down. Try to identify what is driving you and use self talk to comfort yourself, focus more on slow coping techniques, and maybe pick up journaling. Whatever you do, just try your best. Slowing down is not easy, it takes practice and patience.