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Holiday gift anxiety - what it is and how to deal with it

Xmas presentsWith Christmas fast approaching, its that time where we all brave the shops in order to find the perfect gifts for our loved ones. Whilst it sounds like a simple enough task, it rarely actually is. Not only does the list of people to buy for seem to get longer and longer each year, so does the amount were expected to spend on these gifts.

Understandably, buying Christmas presents for everyone causes anxiety amongst many of us. Who should you buy for? How much should you spend? How will your presents compare to what everyone else is getting? Will the recipient like what you have got them? If even just thinking about all of this is causing you to feel anxious then carry on reading for some great tips on how to deal with holiday gift anxiety.

Secret Santa

 If you have a large family or a big group of friends then suggest doing a Secret Santa. This way rather than having the stress of buying for dozens of people you can focus all your attention on just the one gift. Additionally, it will work out much cheaper and you dont have to spend the whole of December shopping for presents either.


 Finances have a huge impact on stress because there are so many expectations when it comes to presents. It definitely adds to the stress of the holidays - especially because we tend to spend beyond our means at this time. Set yourself a budget for Christmas and make sure you stick to it. It may be a bit late now but for next year you can start putting aside money each month so its not such a big hit to your bank balance in December.

 Write out lists

 One of the hardest things about buying presents is the pressure we feel to get it just right. If you dont know what to get someone, just ask them. As well as removing the stress for you, it also means that you can be certain the recipient is going to love their gift.

If you suffer from anxiety and would like help or advice, please feel free to visit our Anxiety Knowledge Centre for more information. 

Binge Eating May Be Caused By Taste Bud Cells

Binge eaters may have their tongues to blame when they binge. New research shows that part of the desire to binge on sweets when stressed comes from taste bud receptors on the tongue.

Scientists have known for many years that stress can cause people to binge eat. This is because stress triggers the body to release hormones called Glucocorticoids or GCs. These hormones bind to receptors in certain cells and influence human’s food choices. For most people the hormones trigger a desire for sweet and high fat food.

The researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia PA decided to take this information and test whether taste buds have GC receptors.

What they found was that taste buds do have GC receptors but some had more than others. The taste buds with the most GC receptors were those that detected sweet and umami tastes.

This means that, under stress, our sweet and savoury taste buds are more active and we therefor crave sweet and umami foods.



So far, tests in mice show that stressed mice had a 77% higher level of GC hormones in their taste buds than non-stressed mice. This provides a direct link between stress and desire for sweet foods. "Taste provides one of our initial evaluations of potential foods. If this sense can be directly affected by stress-related hormonal changes, our food interaction will likewise be altered," said Lead Researcher M. Rockwell Parker, PhD.

With this new discovery, scientists may be able to explain why some people are more likely to crave sweet food when under stress. It is important to remember that taste buds are present in the mouth but also in the gut and pancreas. This means stress could be linked to metabolism and appetite.

Armed with this knowledge, scientists may be able to design a drug that would actually block GC receptors. This could stop stress from causing binge eating and possibly provide a treatment for other food related problems. 

Winter Newsletter Available Online

Issue #20 of our Winter newsletter is now available online for download.

We would love to hear what you think of our newsletters, so please comment on our Issue 20 Newsletter Comments Blog.  These newsletters are designed for you, so we will value any feedback you might have.  If there are certain topics or areas which you feel need to be covered by our future newsletters then this is the place to let us know what you think.

Read more: Winter Newsletter Available Online

Eat, Drink & Be Merry?

What does Christmas mean to you? Is it about food? Mulled wine? Gifts? Endless social events? Making others happy?

What if you’re in recovery from a mental health disorder, addiction or eating disorder? What does Christmas mean then?

Do you have to have less of a Christmas if you are in recovery?

Read more: Eat, Drink & Be Merry?