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Gift Shopping Tips for Those With Mental Illness, Friends and Family

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‘Tis the season for the hustle and bustle of gift giving! If you’re anything like me, gift purchasing is overwhelming. I walk into the store, filled with hope I can make a quick decision and then walk out successful in my endeavor. Typically, that doesn’t happen. I end up in my car, drinking ice-cold water, and pushing away as hard as I can against a panic attack. Feeling defeated, I go online and hope the gift card I send via email will suffice. While there’s nothing wrong with that in the slightest, it can be frustrating when you actually want to put effort into a gift. So, I thought of some suggestions for shopping.

1. Lists are your best friend.

I found out that writing down a list of the people I’m shopping for helps me stay focused. Below the name of the person, I write down two items/ideas/themes that suit them. This cuts out the guessing work when it comes to actually being in the store. If I walk into *insert massive store name here*, I easily get lost in a fuzz of anxiety. For some reason, the list helps.

2. Plan out how you will navigate the store.

If I can’t plan ahead, I’m bound to forget what I’m doing and lose sight of what I actually went to the store to get.

3. Stick to a budget.

I don’t know about you, but if I don’t set a budget I tend to overspend and later feel the guilt of the financial strain.

4. If stores aren’t your thing, make something! Make anything!

How do you feel when someone puts thought into a handmade gift just for you? There are plenty of tutorials for gifts on Pinterest and YouTube. It can be relaxing, exciting and bring a lot of satisfaction to complete a project.

For the families of those who have mental illnesses, I thought of some suggestions for you to potentially give as a gift to your loved one during this holiday season.

1. A beautiful journal set with a pen.

The more personalized, the better. Journaling is soothing and helps sort out those pesky thoughts.

2. A year of “dates.”

Make it a point, once a month, to take them on a date or bring them dinner/breakfast/lunch. Put the phone down and actually focus on what they have to say, and encourage them to do the same! If “dates” aren’t your thing, send them flowers or maybe some books. Get them a subscription to a monthly “crate” (or DIY your own monthly crate and send it to them). When you let someone know you’re thinking of them throughout the year (not just on special holidays), this shows you are willing to help them (also, it gives the person something to look forward to every month).

3. A heavy blanket.

It’s like a huge hug when you aren’t there to hold them through their struggles.

4. Experiences.

There’s something about life that most of us tend to forget during the holiday season… just spending time with one another. Experiences like sledding, going to the movies, going to a play, going to local live music, going on a boat or whatever it is the person loves/wishes they could do… do it with them. Your time and attention are worth more than any object.

While these lists are short, they can help guide you through the season of giving. Shopping can be difficult for those of us who struggle with mental illnesses, and those shopping for us struggle as well. Happy holidays and keep on keeping on, friends!

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Getty Images photo via olesiabilkei

Originally published: December 1, 2017
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