Is too much Christmas shopping spoiling your health?

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The Christmas countdown is under way. Manufacturers of toys, electronic games, and gifts are hoping that you and I will buy their latest items for our nearest-and-dearest. Retailers are hoping we’ll help them set new record sales figures for Christmas spending. Banking institutions are hoping we’ll put all our purchases on our credit cards!

While many corporations are hoping that gift-giving will again be front and centre this year, some charitable organizations are concerned that some people will spend more than they can afford. The urge to spend what we have— and, sadly, what we don’t have, can be fuelled by advertising, our desire to keep up with others, or simply to give someone the best gift money can buy.

Although it’s fairly obvious that getting into more credit card debt isn’t the wisest thing for our finances, surprisingly it’s also not good for our health. In an article titled “Debt problems impact negatively on people’s health” , a debt counselling charity group reports that “More than eight out of 10 people with debt problems say their financial difficulties are having a negative effect on their lives. Nearly half of those questioned said their problems had a very negative impact on their health, with some suffering a nervous breakdown, loss of hair, palpitations and cessation of menstruation. Only 6% said it had no effect.”

It seems unfortunate, that this time of year which traditionally has been about love, peace and good will to men, is causing some of us to feel stressed, depressed, and mentally burdened-down with all of the festive cheer.  So how can we change our spending habits and stay debt-free? How can we maintain our mental balance and feel well?

One method that came to my rescue when I badly needed to cut debt and remove pre-Christmas worry, was prayer. I know this may be surprising, but prayer had helped me solve other problems in my life. I hoped that prayerful meditation would guide me to some practical, stress-reducing, budget-saving ideas regarding Christmas spending.  So I sat at my desk, grabbed a pen and some paper, calmed my unsettled thinking, and waited for “divine inspiration”.

Here are the ideas that came to me. Adopt a spiritual approach to spending at Christmas. That is, pray before hitting the stores or the computer button. Be inspired about what to buy for friends and family. Think more about their likes and needs. Don’t feel rushed or pressured to get the shopping done. Stay calm, serene. Put more thought into gift-giving rather than relying on impulse-buying.  Don’t feel competitive about buying expensive gifts. Christmas is giving from right motives. It’s not about the cost of a gift.

This led me to ask myself what I could ‘give’ if I didn’t have much money to spend on gifts. I recalled how each Christmas, my grandmother and her siblings received a penny and an orange. I thought it was a paltry gift until I realized that if you celebrated Christmas in the wintry depths of Scotland, as they did, a summer orange was a very special gift. So what could I give that was special?

At the top of my list was one word – love, the active caring kind of love. There are many ways of expressing such love. You can spend extra time with someone, cook them a meal, offer to garden for them, or take them for a drive to see the neighbourhood Christmas lights. Or it could be taking the time to purchase a meaningful and thoughtful gift. Another kind of love is to be an un-hurried, un-harried, unruffled shopper, driver, friend, neighbour or family member.

As a result of such prayer-based shopping preparation, Christmas no longer spoils my happiness and wellbeing. I’m completely on top of things and stress-free. What’s more, I’ve stayed out of credit card debt. I’ve learned to be a healthy, responsible giver—and spender—during Christmas.

 

 

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I'm a Melbourne based health writer who provides a perspective on the connection between spirituality, thought and health. As a keen blogger, my aim is to provide the public with a diversity of health content including research into the mind-body connection and how thought affects health.

Comments

  1. Shelley says

    Sorry that this reply is so late Beverly, have not had the opportunity to get to it until now. However, it doesn’t diminish its impact! Again, so timely and sadly, true for many. It reminded me of a time, quite some years ago now, when I had the opportunity to help a dear friend at Christmas, who I found to be mourning over the occasion. After asking why, she began to tell of lack of finances, which I saw was the main concern, as well as other issues that seemed to be overwhelming her. While she was going into great detail in telling me about this, I turned my thought to our Father-Mother God, for an angel message, and it came in these words, “What hast thou in the house?” I knew immediately it was from the Bible, 2 Kings 4:2, and reminded her of this. She followed faithfully a Bible-based religion, so I knew she would know what I was talking about. Interestingly enough, she wasn’t aware of this particular Bible story, so briefly I told her about Elisha and the widow woman, and then asked her as to what she had in the house. She was very gifted when it came to sewing and arts and crafts; she was always showing me different things she’d been doing.
    This set her thought in a new direction!
    On entering her house the following week, I was met by a changed woman – she was beaming, and couldn’t wait to tell me all that she had been doing. She started by showing me all the lovely things she had made for different family members, of which there were many. Then she brought out actual gifts she had bought during the year for others, and had done such a good job of hiding them, that she’d forgotten all about them. It turned out that she already had all she needed. Right there IN the house! We then both rejoiced and hugged, and thanked our loving God for His abundant goodness for all. I understand this comment to be a bit long, but wanted to share in the hope it may help others who are feeling the same sense of despair, at this most wondrous time of year. Our NEEDS are always supplied!
    Thank you again Beverly, and for all you are doing to help lighten the load.

    • Beverly says

      Thank you Shelley for sharing your exellent experience. How wonderful for you and your friend to see the answer working out so harmoniously. ‘What have you in the house’ is a question I often ask myself before rushing out to buy something I think I need. Sometimes I have found exactly what I needed to be already in the house. At other times I have found the perfect solution presenting itself. Thank you for reminding us that divine Love always meets every human need at Christmas and all year round.

  2. Keziah says

    Hi there Beverlhy, thank you for your up to date comments and suggestions. I am part of a large family of brothers, sisters,nieces,nephews and many years ago we adopted a method of gift giving that involved one gift only. Each member took a name from a hat and gave an inspired gift to that person only. It was such fun and very manageable, it worked well.
    Today I posted rugs to two of my grandchildren who live far away. I have been knitting them for most of this year and certainly there is a cost involved but over the course of that time it is manageable and very satisfying.
    I have also given two weekends of gardening as a christmas gift to a relative. We worked together and achieved a beautiful outcome at no expense to me. It was so fulfilling and we had a great time.
    In your article you mention giving the ‘best gift money can buy’. That has to be giving of yourself. A truly fulfilling sense of good will to men.
    In Science and Health, page 578, Mary Baker Eddy writes “[Divine Love] is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    I shall not want for inspiration and problem solving at any time; prayer always holds the answers.

  3. Beverly says

    Thank you Keziah for sharing your good and helpful ideas. How wonderful to know that you have found such loving and practical ways to show your love for your family during this special season. Well done! Yes, the inspiration for the giving of one’s love, caring, compassion, kindness, friendship is truly a gift without price that continues it’s blessing each and every day of the year.

  4. Julie says

    Hi Beverly, I love this, especially the idea to “Think more about their likes and needs.” I have tried to do this this year and wonderful ideas have presented themselves to me, without any fuss or stress. And, as the other commenters have pointed out, it’s so enriching for the giver! A hymn in the Christian Science hymnal says to “give of your heart’s rich overflow”. When we do this, our gifts will be just perfect, because they are God-impelled.

    • Beverly says

      Hello Julie. Well done on the inspiration that’s come to you about which gifts to give this Christmas. Thanks for sharing your comment. Giving that comes from the heart is always a cause for rejoicing – both for you as giver, as well as the recipient. Have a blessed Christmas.

  5. Anthony says

    Sometimes cash may seem to be short or one may not be able to get to the shops to do your Christmas shopping. I have experienced this. However, I decided that nothing could stop me from giving at Christmas. I was given a mail order catalogue which showed just the thing that I wanted to get for someone at less than a third of the price printed on the product which was the price that I would have had to pay at a shop.

    Thinking about the word ‘cost’ I am beginning to see that ‘price’ and ‘cost’ should not be thought of as interchangeable

    The word cost has a negative touch, as if you are giving something away that cannot be recovered, a material loss. However giving is a spiritual quality, provided that it is not done with gain in mind. True giving won’t cost anything. God provides for all our needs and it costs him nothing so we don’t get charged either.

    So shopping for Christmas can be pleasant and rewarding if we see it as an opportunity to express Love to our family and friends.

  6. Beverly says

    Thanks Tony for visiting this blog and leaving your comment. It’s good to know that the answer to your gift-giving needs were met so suitably and simply. Doesn’t this show that there is always an answer. As you showed, spiritual inspiration can show us the way to accomplish what we need to. Have a happy Christmas.

  7. anne wiggs says

    This is a very late reply Beverly, but it only came to my thought today, and I felt impelled to share it.
    We think at Christmas (and at other times) about the enjoyment of gift giving and receiving…placing the importance on the gift itself, on the amount of money spent, the suitability of the item for the person etc. It seems our focus is on the wrong aspect..we lose sight of the idea and place our value on the gift, rather than on the giver (the qualities that make a “giver”.. Love).
    Gratitude isn’t expressed for the gift, but from whom the gift came and as I look at this with spiritual sense and remember a biblical quote “Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from the Father” I realize this is what the whole idea of what ‘gift giving’ is about, remembering who the true Gift Giver is and acknowledging Him for all that He has given and continues to give.

  8. Beverly says

    Thank you Anne for your comment. It is never too late to leave a comment about any of my blogs. Good ideas, such as the one you’ve just shared are always timely. I love the idea that the giver’s love and kindness is really the ‘gift’ – not the material item per se. Christmas blessings to you.