10 Tips for Holiday Shopping with Chronic Pain

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • Santa's arrival at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade reminds us that it's time to shart shopping for the holidays.  While we love to give gifts to our loved ones, shopping for those gifts can be a nightmare for people who live with chronic pain. 

    Holiday shopping doesn't have to be overwhelming, though.  The key is planning ahead.  Here are 10 tips to help make your holiday shopping more pleasant and less painful:

    1.  Make a List

    Take a tip from Santa – make your list and check it twice.  List every person you plan to buy for and how much you want to spend for their gift.  Decide exactly what you want to get for each person before you head for the store.  Wandering through stores trying to decide what to buy will only increase your pain levels.  Be sure to write down sizes, color preferences, etc. so you don't forget. 

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    2.  Shop from Home

    The Internet, catalogs and TV shopping channels have made holiday shopping so much easier.  You don't really have to set foot in an actual store unless you want to.  Because so many people are shopping online now, there's a lot of competition for your business.  Often you can find better bargains online than you can in the physical stores.  And be sure to keep an eye out for stores that are offering free shipping.  Best of all, you can shop in your jammies any time of day or night. 

    3.  Consider Gift Cards

    Gift cards may not be appropriate for everyone on your list, but they're great for those hard-to-buy-for people.  Most of us appreciate a gift card that allows us to shop at our favorite store or eat at our favorite restaurant.  And if you're not sure which store someone would like, you can always give them a Visa gift card that is good just about anywhere.  Most gift cards can be ordered online or picked up with a quick trip to the store. 

    4.  Map Out Your Strategy

    If you still need or want to actually go out to shop, plan your stops ahead of time.  If you're going to a mall, check out the mall's layout online first.  Figure out which stores you'll be going to and where the best place to park is to minimize the amount of walking you'll have to do.  Don't forget to plan a break or two where you can sit down and have a bite to eat or something to drink and rest for a little while.

    When possible, try to shop on weekday mornings.  The stores are less crowded, checkout lines are shorter and it's easier to find good parking spaces.  

    5.  Dress for Comfort

    If clothes tend to hurt you, be sure you're wearing the softest, most comfortable clothing you have.  Clothes that are only slightly uncomfortable when you leave the house will feel like sandpaper on your skin after a few hours of shopping. 

    It's also a good idea to dress in layers for holiday shopping.  It may be cold outside but hot in the stores.  Layers allow you to be comfortable regardless the temperature.

    6.  Don't Forget Your Meds

    Before you leave for a shopping trip, make sure you have any medications you may need with you.  It's a miserable feeling to find yourself in the middle of a mall, in pain, and realize you forgot your pain medication.  You might also want to carry a small bottle of water with you or plan to be near a restaurant or food stand when it's time to take your meds so you'll have something to take them with. 


  • 7.  Take Advantage of Mobility Aids

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    If you sometimes use a cane, walker or other mobility aid, take it with you even if you feel like you don't need it when you leave the house.  After a couple of hours of walking and standing in checkout lines, you'll be glad you have it.  If walking and standing is difficult or painful for you, don't hesitate to take advantage of motorized scooters.  Many large discount stores have them available free of charge for customers who need them.  And most malls have mototized scooters you can rent.  Why walk when you can ride?!

    8.  Ask for Help

    If you can't find what you're looking for in a reasonably short period of time, ask a salesperson for help.  Don't waste your energy wandering around the store hunting when a salesperson can direct you straight to the item you want.

    9.  Avoid Carrying Heavy Packages

    The large discount and warehouse stores all have shopping carts, but if you're shopping at a mall or smaller store, you may need assistance carrying packages.  If you don't have someone who can go with you to help carry your purchases, think about taking a pull cart along.  There are nice looking cloth models available that don't look like “little old lady” carts.  Another option is a baby stroller.  They can hold a lot of packages and also give you something to lean on if you're getting tired. 

    10. Take Frequent Rest Breaks

    If you're getting tired or starting to hurt, find someplace to sit down and rest for five or 10 minutes.  You'll be surprised at just how much sitting down for a few minutes can help ease your pain and help you keep going.

    Happy shopping!

Published On: November 29, 2011