Pace yourselves, everyone! The shopping season is in full swing. Keep a list, check it twice, do whatever it takes to stick to your plan.

I’m on the hunt for a Christmas tree this weekend, my annual tradition with my now 14-year-old daughter to the world-class tree farm up the road. There are many to choose from, but the decision needs to be made, right then and there. Not only that, but there will be a bunch of other people doing exactly the same thing: walking the paddock and vying for the limited number of trees available. It may get competitive…

Whew. All this deciding takes effort. And willpower. Willpower is a real thing, you know, an internal energy that can ebb. We can run out of fuel.

And when we do, we try to find ways to cope. There are two basic reactions when our willpower wanes. We either put off the decision entirely, or we pull the trigger. We either procrastinate, or we just let it fly.

Of course, with Christmas, we’re fast running out of time. Unless we’ve got the genius of a gran and have been stowing presents away all year long, we don’t have the luxury of procrastination.

Christmas can be a crazy countdown, and if there’s one thing that skews our financial decision making, it’s being under the gun in terms of time. Sales techniques play with our fear of missing out (FOMO). With Christmas, there’s that fear of missing the whole thing!

So we need some strategies for avoiding the impulsive buys. Pacing ourselves helps, so we’re not trying to do it all at once. Make sure you take breaks from the frenzy if you’re swept up.

But what if you need to keep going, soldiering through the mall to get something for just one more person on your list? Make sure you take a break to eat – glucose has been shown to be the fuel for mental energy. It will help boost your ability to make savvier choices.

That said, we know how we can crash and burn after a sugar high, so it can only sustain us for so long. We need to make the most of it.

Hopefully my glucose levels after breakfast this Saturday will be just enough for my daughter and me to make a good decision and find the perfect tree.

Now what am I doing about all those gifts that are supposed to be under it?

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