The Challenges of Holiday Shopping With a Chronic Illness


Whether you’re shopping for holiday gifts, need new clothes for parties or are exchanging unwanted presents, the holidays can mean a lot of shopping. While this can be a fun activity for many, for those of us who are chronically ill, holiday shopping can bring new meaning to the phrase “shop till you drop.”

It might not seem like it, especially to a healthy person who loves shopping, but going to the mall or shopping center can actually be very energy-consuming. It usually involves a lot of walking around and carrying things, which can be difficult if you are ill. I personally get tired very easily and have to keep my shopping excursions brief, especially if I am going after a full day at work.

The holidays mean added crowds, which can be even more overwhelming. Something as simple as waiting in line to return or purchase something can be physically taxing. When you are ill, even the act of just standing around can be very tiring.

These are foreign concepts to some of my friends, who don’t see how I can be too tired for a shopping trip. If I’m really not feeling up to it, I tell them to emphasize the word “trip.” I have learned after years of dealing with illness not to push myself and to recognize when going to the mall will be too much for me.

I used to dislike online shopping but lately I have been utilizing it more, if only for the convenience. Browsing from the comfort of my bed with no lines or crowded aisles? Yes, please. I am now internet coupon-savvy as well and tend to save more when I shop online, which is important when dealing with medical expenses.

I’m not saying to never attempt to shop at brick-and-mortar stores. I am just acknowledging that this everyday activity can actually be pretty difficult for those of us who are not 100 percent healthy.

There are ways that stores can make it easier for those of us with chronic illnesses or disabilities. These include having a water fountain and bathroom available, as well as seats. A five-minute sit-down break can go a long way.

This holiday season I have chosen to minimize my in-person shopping as much as possible.  This allows me to save my easily-spent energy for the more meaningful aspect of the holiday season: spending time with loved ones.

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