Surviving Gift Giving This Christmas

‘Tis The Season To Not Be Stressed 

Finding the perfect gift can be a challenging ordeal. Especially when you have numerous presents to buy for all the glorious family who will be visiting you this Christmas. Gift hunting can be tricky and at this time of the year, shopping centres and stores are filled to the brim with stressed out, maxed out shoppers, fitting in last-minute Christmas shopping. So, we’re going to tell you Santa’s biggest secrets when it comes to choosing the best gifts to give your brain some peace this Christmas. 

Why Is Present Shopping So Stressful?

There is an accumulation of things which make present shopping and gift giving stressful. Firstly, the festive season is often deemed to be one of the most stressful times of the year. Due to expectations of lavish presents and a picturesque Christmas, mixed with decorating, food shopping and hosting for your family and friends, it’s safe to say that it’s a busy time of the year for many. Secondly, with already such a full holiday calendar, you then have to engage in shopping, which in itself is time consuming and expensive. All of this combined makes for a stressful situation and can send your brain into overdrive. 

The Science Behind It

Dr. Kerry Ressler, chief scientific officer at McLean Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School notes that “stress can affect how the brain functions”, explaining how scientists conducting research have seen first-hand how stress impacts and interferes with your cognition, memory and attention. Whilst stress is a common part of life, facing stress long-term can have negative effects on your ability to remember and the brain’s functions, including mood and anxiety. 

Cortisol is the human body’s biggest stress hormone and cortisol receptors inhibit most of the cells in your body. Also, it can trigger fight-or-flight mode. WebMD notes that when your body is on high alert, “cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way. These might include your digestive or reproductive systems, your immune system, or even your growth processes.” 

Picking presents doesn’t need to be stress-inducing and we know that stress isn’t good for our brains. So here are three things to consider when you’re gift shopping which should help to keep the stress at bay. 

A large survey consisting of 2000 people conducted by Gifts.com asked people between the ages of 18-65:

  • The worst gift they’ve received
  • Why they dislike certain gifts
  • What makes them like a gift 

The results of this survey will allow us to better understand what types of gifts people value the most and what you should be looking for when you head to John Lewis to do your Christmas shopping. 

Don’t Shop For Yourself 

This is a particularly tricky one as shopping for yourself can be tempting when you see all the shiny nice things in the stores and you decide well, if I want it, surely they will. However this is not the case. 48% of people confessed that they don’t like it when they receive gifts that are better suited for the person giving the gift and not them. The moral here is, don’t buy people gifts that you want yourself. 

Useful Gifts Are Appreciated More 

Whilst it may be funny to buy your nan a pair of rollerblades for Christmas, the likelihood is that she probably won’t use them because she may have just had a hip replacement. Gag gifts can be funny, but the gifts that are useful are appreciated more, 36% of people dislike their gifts when they have no use for it.

Jewellery vs Electronics 

This may not come as a surprise, but when asked what their favourite gifts to recieve were, 94% of women said they enjoyed receiving jewelry and 95% of men said they were happy with electronics. It may sound like a cliché but statistics don’t lie and these gifts are sure to increase the recipients oxytocin levels.

What Gifts Do People Like?

Even if your shopping is done last minute, it shouldn’t feel that way to the receiver of the gift. When asked what attributes people look for in a gift, 39% said they like gifts which are meaningful and you can tell someone has put thought and time into it, 13% said gifts which are surprising and 16% said presents that they asked for.

And if you’re worried about what horrendous gifts you might receive, watch our video on faking gratitude, so you don’t offend Auntie Carol, again. 

Know someone who’s frazzled their brain this Christmas? Give them the useful gift of Peak – Brain Training and help them train their cognition.

Discover our latest articles on brain health, cognitive development and wellbeing:

Sources Cited:

https://www.gifts.com/blog/best-and-wors

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/protect-your-brain-from-stress

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol#1

All information featured in Peak – Brain Training articles are provided for informational purposes only and are not substitutes for medical or physician advice.

Sajal Azam

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