Are you a lover of Christmas? Do you get excited when the Coca-Cola Christmas advert comes on the television? Do you long for the first flurry of snow?

These are the signs that tell you it’s the ideal time to start shopping for the perfect Christmas gifts. Even though we know it’s usually sensible to start early, sometimes we leave Christmas shopping until the last minute. Why? Because we are procrastinating.

‘Christmas shopping procrastination’ is when we delay it until we can no longer avoid it. Until it becomes urgent we will carry out tasks which are less important but more enjoyable. We develop an ‘ostrich syndrome’, which sees us burying our heads in the sand rather than dealing with things head-on. This makes no sense because at some point the task will have to be confronted.

Christmas shopping procrastination can be simplified into two statements. Do you fall into either?

1. Christmas shopping is an unpleasant task and I delay it as long as possible.

2. I enjoy the hustle and bustle and deadline of shopping last minute for Christmas presents.

If you agree with the first statement you are categorised as an ‘Avoidance Procrastinator’. A person who will use delaying tactics for as long as possible to avoid any decision-making and feelings of anxiety or stress. This can be your downfall. Instead of trying to be organised and shopping before the rush, you leave it until the last shopping day before Christmas. An Avoidance Procrastinator’s nightmare is that they will find themselves staring at half-empty shelves, or, missing the last postage date, unable to decide what to buy, feeling panic and dread set in.

If you agree with the second statement you are categorised as an ‘Arousal Procrastinator’. You do not plan shopping trips as you do not consider them important. Liking a deadline, you will wait until the last shopping day before Christmas (or the last postage day) and will run around like a headless chicken. You will often buy presents without really considering who they are for. The thrill of this and the buzz you experience makes this an enjoyable task.

If you find Christmas shopping to be a stressful experience, and/or if you feel stressed at other times, there are various ways to cope with it. Remember that stress is a normal part of life and there is help if you need it.

Tip 1: Care for your body. Your body needs time to rest and repair itself so it’s important to get the right amount of sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.

Tip 2: It’s better to be prepared rather than worrying and fretting. Write a list of everything you need to do and prioritise the most important items. Create a plan of action that tackles each item one at a time.

Tip 3: Talk to friends or family instead of bottling up your emotions. Outsiders can listen to you and give alternative perspectives to your problems. Talking to others can ease some of the pressure.

Tip 4: Breathe. It’s one of the easiest and most natural things to do. Breathing slowly and deeply releases tension in the muscles and can help clear your mind. The most common technique for relaxation breathing is to inhale until your lungs are full and then expel the air slowly.

Tip 5: Smile, even when you don’t feel like it. Smiling can trick your brain into thinking that you are happy, and can in turn make you feel happier.

However, sometimes it feels like stress is overwhelming us. Stress can become a problem that may begin to affect your work performance, personal relationships, and daily activities. Counsellors and Psychotherapists can help you deal with your stress by helping you work through your issues and helping you create constructive and effective methods for coping.

If you think you may benefit from Counselling or Psychotherapy, you are welcome to contact us for a free consultation, which will allow you to explore your options. The Green Rooms is a confidential, professional organisation that offers appointments world-wide.