Finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list is both fun and stressful — and in some cases, it can even become painful. Whether you suffer from chronic pain, or just want to avoid an accident or injury, planning ahead and taking a few simple precautions can help avoid a painful shopping experience.
If you have chronic pain, you may dread the idea of spending hours in a crowded shopping center; going in with a game plan can help cut down on the hours you spend there. Make a list of everyone you need to buy for, and do your best to decide what you’ll get them before you head out rather than wait for inspiration to strike in the store.
To avoid spending more time in the car, making multiple trips, and running all over town, try to organize your errands by area: think of which stores are in the same general direction and plan to hit them in the same day.
Feet and legs can take a beating during hours of wandering a shopping mall and standing in long lines. Avoid straining your muscles and joints by wearing supportive, well-fitting shoes — this is not the time for ballet flats, which don’t provide any arch support, or heels, which strain the Achilles tendon and the ball of the foot. Walking or tennis shoes are best, and if you live in a cold climate, make sure to wear socks thick enough to keep your feet warm.
Staying hydrated is probably the last thing on your mind while shopping, but it’s important — take a water bottle with you, especially if you have medication you’ll need to take, and make time to eat.
Lugging bags and packages can take a toll on your back, neck, and arms. Don’t overload yourself! Make use of shopping carts when they’re available instead of carrying everything yourself. Take a trip to the car when the load becomes heavy or unwieldy and store some packages in the trunk before you continue shopping. Similarly, make time to take breaks during a long day of shopping — it’s a good excuse to sit down for a chat over a cup of hot cocoa.