6 Ways to Rethink Gifting and Stay Calm

The Gifting Season

You can read dozens of blogs and articles on giving the perfect gift during the holidays, accompanied by recommendations and buying links to each item. But what I’m about to propose isn’t limited to a package tied with a pretty bow. Read on for 6 Ways to Rethink Gifting and Stay Calm this holiday season…

I don’t think my family will be offended if I tell you that the best gift I’ve ever received is one I gave to myself. Let me explain…I do love the things my kids have given me through the years and the expressions of love from my husband—they remind me of someone every time I use them and are hard to part with even when their usefulness expires or when the shelves get too full.

Rethinking Gifts

But think for a minute. Would you rather have the mixer your mom gave you several years ago or your Mom? The video your dad shot of you training a new puppy or your Dad? A rare-stone from your spouse or the person you married and love? Suddenly you’re shedding a tear for someone who’s no longer with you.

So back to the gift I gave myself. Many of you know my story and why I now talk to you about what helps us manage pain (if not, you can read my story here).

Without the decision to care for myself or the daily choices, which reduce my pain, I would be that mom/wife/daughter who had a bad accident and whose life was ruined. My gift to myself is the choice I make to utilize my pain-management skills every day—every moment.

The Gift of Self Care

If you live with pain, you can learn coping skills and lifestyle adaptations that reduce your pain, too—it’s a gift you give to yourself. Medical emergencies are hard to ignore, but we often put off work on non-urgent things that prevent us from flourishing. Prioritizing self-care is a gift to ourselves and our families when discovering what is holding us back from thriving and taking steps to remove the hurdles! Read about the changes in several people who have discovered how to flourish despite chronic pain.

Focus on Your Strengths

Where do you start? Martin Seligman, who is often referred to as “the father of positive psychology” and a proponent of focusing on positives rather than negatives, tells us, “I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.” 

  • Spend time thinking about what matters the most to you, what you value most. Do you fit in that picture, or are you only an onlooker?
  • Make a list of your strong points—talents, character, abilities. Where do your strengths overlap? What you value?
  • Do you know what those who are closest to you value the most about you? …now there’s a holiday party game.
  • What will help you finish out this year with energy and optimism—focusing on what you aren’t or looking at what you are?
  • Brainstorm with a friend or coach how your values can inform what you do—your minute-by-minute decisions, the small steps toward a goal, a complete turn-around—and feed your courage to take action.
  • Not sure what your strengths are? Take 10 minutes to take a free strengths survey.

At first, improving your signature strengths may sound like just another self-improvement challenge. But there are complex layers to giving ourselves what we truly need. For more information on Martin Seligman, here is a great article about him from PositivePsychology.com.

Flipping the Script

Let’s face it. It’s been a hard year. It feels like everything has gone wrong. Still, there are many things that could enhance our existence, bring us joy, and cause a ripple effect touching our friends, family, and beyond. So, instead of feeling bad about being alone or not having what you need, consider how intentional gifting (and giving guidance for gifts) might improve the end of 2020 or maybe lead to a brighter beginning of 2021. Let’s flip the script! Rather than continuing with the typical frenzied gift purchase, let’s try to categorize them into, our intentions, physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional gifts.

This image helps the reader understand the article with a tasteful image of a holiday gift

Easy strategies to help you make holiday shopping less stressful and more meaningful

Here it is: 6 Ways to Rethink Gifting and Stay Calm During This Holiday Season

1. Focus on Intentional Gifting.

There are so many THINGS to choose from. All it takes is a walk through your favorite store this time of year or several hours of online shopping to amass a heaping cart full of seasonal must-haves or wants and end up with that holiday frazzled feeling. Let’s try a different approach this year focused on “what’s-best-for-me,” shall we?  Consider items on your shopping list for others and the gift list friends and family members often request. Try intentional gifting. Our very own Kendy Anderson is a poster child for self-care. She works hard — she coaches her clients, is Director of TCC®U courses, and instructs several classes. She’s also very attentive to her own self-care because it’s a key tool for reducing pain. Besides enjoying her little farm, gardening, and family, Kendy is an avid reader. So, it’s safe to say her shopping list will include a few good books. Check out her book reviews on our blog page for some insightful reads that can enrich your life and your experience with pain (search for “book reviews”).

2. Gifts that Prompt Personal Goals.

Consider things for your gift list that prompt you or others to go after a goal (exercise clothing or equipment; an instructional DVD or some inspirational music; a healthy recipe book—with pictures of healthy foods, of course; a gym or online membership to encourage consistency). Some gifts can even be FREE: ask your tech-savvy child or grandchild to create or print an inspiring quote for your wall or mirror; give yourself the gift of time (permission goes a long way) to research something you know will improve your life, such as learning what foods are best for you, especially if you have a chronic illness or condition. Or ways to increase your gratitude every day, such as gifting yourself or a loved one a gratitude journal.

3.  The Gift of Physical Health.

How could this gifting spree improve your PHYSICAL health? Are you challenged by balance issues or reduced strength? Ask your physician or therapist what will help you, then add the recommended repetitions to your exercise routine—a gift to yourself that keeps on giving. Maybe you want to add informed plant-based eating to your culinary repertoire. Consider taking or gifting a healthy cooking class, working with a nutritionist, or spending time inspiring yourself to get healthy by organizing ideas on a vision board, on Pinterest, or on YouTube.

4. Boost Your Mind-Body Connection

What about gifts that support or strengthen your MENTAL health? How about an app or DVDs for learning a second language, a class or DIY book to get you started on a desired hobby or project, a big book of Sudoku crossword puzzles (or an app for your smartphone). Studies show that combining learning with exercise amps up the brain’s ability to absorb information, so grab your earbuds while you walk (if you’re in a safe place or on your treadmill)! Need to declutter or make some improvements to your home organization? Ask your family to pool their gifting money so you can hire a handyman to build shelves or hire an organizer to get you started on the 2021 purge.

5. Awaken Your Spiritual Side.

This one may sound strange because we all have different ideas on what SPIRITUAL means. Remember that spirituality doesn’t necessarily relate to religion. However, it has been scientifically proven that having a spiritual practice improves emotional health by reducing anxiety and worry. Be it through praying, attending church, reading, socializing, yoga or meditation, or simply getting out into nature, spiritual growth connects us to a power bigger than ourselves. How might you gift yourself or someone else a spiritual infusion?

Suggestions include: a devotional by your favorite author, reading your Bible or sacred text in a different translation or paraphrase (there are many apps for that), visiting different churches in your area (now offering live-streaming or have online resources), starting a meditation, yoga or mindfulness practice. No matter where you live, there are places to walk or hike and enjoy naturally quiet spaces—parks, open areas, beaches, roadways or trails for biking, and water for kayaking/canoeing.

6. Keep Calm and Peace Out.

EMOTIONAL health is a part of self-care that’s often ignored or forgotten. What soothes you, subdues anxiety, and helps you focus on the things you do well? Gifts like these are fun to give and fun to receive: a subscription to a favorite music app or Sirius radio, a portable Bluetooth speaker to fill a room or space outdoors with your favorite tunes, a consultation with an essential oil expert, a luxurious hot-stone massage, a cozy throw for winter chills, or a comforting special blend tea or hot drink mix. Remember that you cannot share from an empty vessel or run-down battery during this season of gifting. Gifting for your own or someone else’s emotional comfort is a wonderfully effective battery recharge. Who wouldn’t love that? Let’s all try to peace out this holiday.

May you experience the joy of gifting and receiving this year as you think of your own needs and wishes. Be sure to clearly communicate those to your friends and family. I am so grateful that you spent time with me today thinking about 6 Ways To Rethink Gifting and Stay Calm this holiday season. Happiest of holidays to you and yours.

Want more holiday reading from our blog? May we suggest Finding Gratitude in Unexpected Places.

About the Author: Becky Curtis

After a horrific car accident nearly took her life and her own long and complex recovery journey, Becky has assembled a vibrant team of specially-trained coaches—healthcare professionals who have gained proficiency in teaching and coaching, many who live successfully with chronic pain. Becky travels extensively to speak about the role of health coaching in pain management and has been a regular speaker at PAINWeek®, and many other conferences, in addition to coaching and managing TCC’s program. She lives in Utah with her husband and dog, Quigley.

Keep up to date with TCC’s blog.