Create an Emotional Gift List to Have a Less Anxious Holiday Season

Let’s all rush, rush, and stress, stress because you have to buy something for everyone you know even if you haven’t talked to them all year.

It is no secret that the holidays can bring on the anxiety for everyone and for the estimated 50 million people who live with anxiety disorders, that’s like piling anxiety on top of anxiety. It’s not just the consumerism and gift giving pressure; it means getting all your work stuff done before everyone disappears. It means climbing through the attic to get your decorations to make your house festive. It is deciding which holiday parties to attend and which ones not to attend and then stressing over what excuse you will use for the rejected party hosts. Hey, let’s make sure we all spend money we don’t have on things people don’t need because, as the Geico ad says, “It’s what we do.” Just STOP IT!

While I will be the first to admit that I do get a bit caught up in the decorating part. We tend to overcompensate with our Christmas lights down here in Florida to offset sweating profusely putting up lights in mid-eighties heat. The more colored lights we have, the cooler it feels and reminds us of where we grew up. I’m not in Chevy Chase territory, but I get close. LOL


I know you all hear it and you know it’s true. Christmas is about Jesus, not about the mall. The Holidays should remind us all that intangible gifts from the heart mean more and can last forever. That being said, I’d like to share my 20-item Emotional Gift Guide which I gladly borrowed from my good friend Jack Levine, one of the most caring and compassionate people I know. Use this guide to give an emotional gift to everyone on your list.

To yourself….respect, confidence, faith, passion, and fortitude.

To a family member….communication and understanding, even if there have been relationship challenges.

To a friend….a genuine, caring spirit and appreciation.

To our natural world, animal and plant life….admiration, protection, and preservation.

To a good cause….generosity of time and treasure and passionate advocacy.

To the anxious and depressed….patience, acceptance, understanding, and a smile.

To our military forces, first responders and their loved ones….honor, admiration, and support to heal the wounds.

To the ill and hurting….conscientious concern and comfort.

To the hungry and homeless….compassion, emergency services, and creative community solutions.

To the abused, neglected and abandoned….representation, security and hope.

To someone with a unique challenge….recognition, acceptance and a path to independence.

To the addicted and troubled….open arms, forgiveness and a positive path to recovery.

To an infant and toddler….attention, attachment, safety, a read-aloud and learning opportunities.

To a child or teen….patience, guidance, and a positive example through mentoring.

To a parent in need….a helping hand and guidance.

To an elder….reverence, gratitude and dignified care.

To a customer or client….excellent service and lasting value.

To everyone you see, friends and strangers alike….a warm smile, acts of kindness and positive energy.

To people of every age….unconditional love and sincere gratitude.

To the President Elect… a chance.

To all the peoples of the world.…justice and peace.

Of course, we all still need to buy a few material things for those closest to us, especially the kiddies but Santa can handle that. It is important that we set the right example and continue to hammer home the real meaning of Christmas and the holidays. I know it is not easy with the media barrage of “Black December” deals. If you add an “emotional gift” column to your gift-giving list, you might find that may be all you need over time.

As for the anxiety and stress of the holidays, that is very real. My good friends Randi Silverman and Wendy Ward from the Youth Mental Health Project shared a great blog post sharing their tips for managing the holidays, It is worth the read.

So Merry Christmas! (I work for myself no so I can say that) Happy Holidays! Stay sane. Take a deep breath. Don’t go all “Clark Griswold” on your family. Reflect and give thanks for all that you have. It’s more than you think.



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