You know how messy your mind can feel when you’re surrounded by ‘things’? When the totality of your possessions becomes overwhelming, it chips away at your wellbeing. But, did you know you don’t need to be drowning in a sea of stuff for this to take effect? Some of us are more sensitive to this than others. Around 2 in 10 of us have heightened sensory processing sensitivity. Being a highly sensitive person means we’re more aware than others of subtleties in our environment and, therefore, we can be more easily overwhelmed in disorderly or chaotic spaces.
For me, allowing space to remain space is really important. When I look around me and I see space, I take in calm, freedom and inspiration. I feel peace, settled and at home. I realise that when I’m amongst clutter, I’m working hard to manage my emotions. To stay calm and be focused. Perhaps you find this too? (Imagine what we could achieve if we harnessed that energy for something more useful!!)
Because of this, Christmas comes hand in hand with a sense of dread. Don’t get me wrong, I feel grateful that there are people who want to buy me a present at Christmas time, and therein lies half the problem. When people do buy me presents that aren’t meaningful to me, I feel obliged to keep them. They become possessions without a place and contribute to the clutter. So before buying a whole bunch of stuff for your loved ones, you might like to ask if they even want a whole bunch of stuff.
I don’t. And this makes me pretty hard to buy for at Christmas, according to some friends and family. But then, I’d argue they don’t know me very well. We can get all too good at talking AT each other; we totally forget to get to know each other, don’t we?
Here’s seven things I’d consider great gifts:
Books they love
Be careful with this one because it could class as ‘stuff’ depending on the type of book you’re buying for someone. It has to be something the person you’re buying for loves to read. Someone could buy me a best-selling fiction book and I wouldn’t be pleased. But when my sister got me three books I actually wanted for Christmas, all beautifully wrapped up, I LOVED it and immediately tucked into Rising Strong by Brené Brown. How did she know which books I wanted? She asked me for a wishlist. My fiancé has got wise to this one too, and I’m super impressed when he goes off list and still gets it right. (pssst… Brené Brown has a new book out people!)
Perhaps the strangest sounding gift and yet totally awesome. I’d been banging on about needing bookends to organise my collection of books I like to keep beside the bed. The ornamental stones my partner brought me were perfect -I get to be tidy, pretty and unique all in one go.
If your person is someone who wouldn’t normally treat themselves to a spa experience or floatation tank experience, but would absolutely love this, then isn’t that a thoughtful gift? On the other end of the scale, our Caroline was totally made up when her hubby brought her an unforgettable supercar experience for her birthday this year. Now, clearly not everyone will love the supercar experience; the same goes for a spa day so be mindful that just because you would love an experience yourself, doesn’t mean they will.
Jewellery is such a popular gift; we can quickly end up with far too much. But no one thinks about cleaning up those old necklaces, bracelets and rings hidden at the back of the jewellery box. There might be something special there that they would love to wear again, and wouldn’t that be far nicer than picking something at random?
Vouchers for their favourite restaurant
How many of us treat ourselves enough? I can’t remember the last time I went to my favourite restaurant. On the rare occasion I go out, I grab a money-off deal and go elsewhere instead. So it would be pretty cool to have someone pay attention to what my favourite restaurant is and then get me a voucher for a special night out.
Better still, actually take them out. Nothing can beat spending quality time with someone and actually being interested in each other. Can’t afford much? That’s ok –a walk on the beach is free! The important thing is that you’re spending time with them. Connection is better than clutter any day of the year.
Something they need
I’m a big fan of asking people if there’s anything they need. It’s so disheartening to buy someone a gift you’ve put a lot of thought into, thinking they’ll love it, only to find it’s still in its wrapper when next Christmas arrives. So find out where their focus is. Even if it sounds dull to you, if it’s something they need they’ll be grateful.
Hopefully you’ve realised by now that giving the perfect gift depends very much on understanding what lights someone up. So be curious, have a conversation, ask some questions and really, really listen to what they have to say.
Hayley shares her personal stories of feeling shy, socially anxious, ‘not good enough’ and fearfully avoiding the good things in life. Growing her confidence through coaching, gradually stretching her comfort zone and connecting with others, she now uses everything she has learned to help other people grow their confidence in her role as a coach. Hayley is passionate about connecting people with similar stories and creating safe, supportive spaces to make friends and try new things. Hayley dreams of a time when all of the strengths, skills and goodness in ‘quiet’ is recognised and appreciated as readily as being bold, gregarious, and comfortable in the spotlight is right now.