Christmas shopping can be stressful at the best of times, but if you suffer with anxiety it can be especially tough.  Below are some tips to help you manage your anxiety levels while you do your shopping.

Plan Ahead
Planning ahead will help you to stay focused and enable you to work out a strategy for how to tackle your shopping.  Make a list of the items you want to purchase and think about where you could get these items from.  You can then make yourself a list per shop and take one shop at a time.

Next, think about how you will travel to these shops and how you will transport your shopping home.  If you are travelling on foot or by public transport then you will need to avoid buying too many heavy or bulky items in one go.  Also ensure you have enough shopping bags or a shopping trolley to help you get your items home. 

If you take medication to help anxiety attacks then make sure that you take this as it is prescribed.  Some anxiety medication works through taking it regularly on a daily basis, while other medication is just taken as it is needed. If you are prescribed medication that can be taken as needed then ensure that you have this to hand while you are out shopping and carry a drink to take this with if required.   

Shop in Short Bursts
Although it may be tempting to buy everything in one big shopping trip this strategy won't work for everyone and for some this may be too overwhelming.  Another alternative is to divide you shopping between several shorter shopping trips and tackle just a small number of shops per outing. 

If you feel yourself becoming tired or overwhelmed then take a short break.  You can either visit a coffee shop and have a warm drink or you could just take a seat on a bench or sit at a bus stop for a few minutes.  Use those few minutes to practice some simple breathing exercises and observe some of the things around you.  You could either mentally try to list off all the different sounds you can hear or do some tense and release exercises with your muscles.

Shopping Online
The internet has revolutionised the retail industry and it means that, if you have access to a computer, then much of your shopping can be purchased from the comfort of your own home.   All of the major supermarkets now offer internet shopping so food shopping can also be done from home and delivered at a time that is convenient for you.  If you prefer shopping in person then some stores, like Iceland, offer the option of booking a home delivery.

If you are considering doing your main shopping online be mindful of your internet security and identity theft.  To reduce the chance of falling victim to this stick to larger, well established internet shops and check that any purchases are made through a secure webpage with the code 'https' at the start of the web address.  Many sites offer paypal as a means of payment and this can also help provide some protection.  Also keep a close eye on your bank statements and don't be afraid to query any unexpected or suspicious payments.

Avoid Shopping During Busy Periods
Shops will be at their quietest on weekdays either in the morning before lunchtime or in the afternoon, after lunch but before 4pm.  Weekends will be the busiest time so if you find crowds difficult to manage then avoid shopping during this period.  If you live in a larger town or city then you could try doing more of your shopping through smaller, independent shops as these tend to be less busy than big stores and they often really appreciate the custom.