Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Shopping With Chronic Illness

By , About.com Guide
Updated September 08, 2009
About.com Health's Disease and Condition content
Do you dread holiday shopping? All that walking, trying to remember what you need, what you have, who you need to buy for -- it can add up to a nightmare for someone with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS).

It doesn't have to be such a daunting task. With careful planning, you can manage your shopping trips and have a better experience. To help you with that planning, here are 10 steps to surviving holiday shopping with fibromaylgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

 Step #1: Make Lists

Start by making a list of everyone you plan to buy for and how much you plan to spend on each person. Brainstorm ideas for each of them. If there's a possibility you'll be buying clothes for anyone, write down their sizes so you don't forget.

Step #2: Shop from Home

Look at your list and see what items you might be able to buy online or from catalogs. Be sure to order early so you won't be stressed out waiting for gifts to arrive in time.

Step #3: Organize Your Shopping Trips

If you still need to buy some things locally or browse for ideas, it's time for a new list. Group people by what types of items you're likely to buy for them. For example, group children together, group outdoorsy men together, etc. That way, you won't end up having to run back to the same store multiple times.
Once you have your list made, take it immediately and put it in your purse or wallet so you don't accidentally leave it at home.

Step #4: Plan of Attack

To form your plan of attack, think about how you function best. Does driving stress you out, or is your car a welcome place of solitude between noisy stores? Do you like one-stop shopping, or are you overwhelmed by large stores? How far can you walk without resting, or in a single day?
Take your answers to those questions and decide where you want to shop. Make sure you know how to get there and how to get between stores if you're going to multiple locations. (I always keep a phone book in my car so I can check the map or call for directions. Others like to use mobile devices to get the information they need on the go.)

Step #5: Watch the Time - Time of the Season, Time of Day

Don't procrastinate. Gone are the days when those who celebrate Christmas can both start and finish holiday shopping on December 23. Give yourself time to make several short shopping trips so each trip doesn't land you flat on your back for a couple of days.
Also, keep in mind the time of day you go out. Crowds are thinnest in the early morning, which means better parking spaces and less of a chance that you'll be too overwhelmed. Of course, mornings are the worst time for a lot of us. If you have stores in your area that are open late or all night, that might be the best time for you. Might as well take advantage of insomnia, right?

Step #6: Invite a Friend to Come Along

Going shopping with someone else has several advantages:
  • You can ask them to drive.
  • They can help you stay focused.
  • They may be able to help with heavy bags.
  • You can split up so neither of you has to cover the entire store.
  • They can stand in line while you sit and rest, or make your way back to the car.
All that, and it's just more fun.

Step #7: Take Your Meds & Mobility Aids

Take medications that you might need with you. If you have musculoskeletal pains, pain rubs or patches can help keep them quiet. If you ever use mobility aids (cane, crutches, walker), take them with you even if you feel fine when you start out.

Step #8: Dress for Comfort

If you're susceptible to clothing-related pain, take care to wear things you can tolerate for a long time.
If you have temperature sensitivities, dress in layers so you don't get a chill outside or end up overheated and miserable inside. This works best if you're somewhere with a shopping cart, so you don't have to carry your outerwear.

Step #9: Take Time to Rest

As you shop, keep an eye out for places where you can sit and rest. Malls are generally the best at providing benches, and of course there's the food court. In other stores, though, you can always slip into a dressing room and just relax for a moment, or pretend you're trying out a chair that’s for sale. Even if you don't need to use the restroom, at least it's a place to sit for awhile.

Step #10: Ask for Help

If you know what you're looking for but you don't know where it is, ask a salesperson. That way, you're not wasting your energy by wandering all over. Also ask for help with heavy or awkward items, and take advantage of getting help to the car whenever possible.
To cope with the other demands of the holiday season, read The Holiday Survival Guide.


mandy said...

plan everything and that's it. And don't forget enjoy and be happy:)

neil martin said...

what a great blog. Some very good points you raise here.