10 Tips for Holiday Shopping with Chronic Pain

by Karen Lee Richards Patient Advocate

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

Make a list

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.

Shop from home

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.

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.

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.

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.

Don't forget your meds

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.

Take advantage of mobility aids

If you sometimes use a cane, walker or other mobility aid, take it with you. After a couple of hours of walking and standing in checkout lines, you'll be glad you have it. Many large discount stores have them available free of charge for customers who need them. And most malls have motorized scooters you can rent. Why walk when you can ride?!

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.

Avoid carrying heavy 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.

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.

Karen Lee Richards
Meet Our Writer
Karen Lee Richards

Karen is the co-founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association. She writes for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Pain Management.