Bargain hunters have circled their calendars. Black Friday, the biggest discount shopping extravaganza of the year, is only days away. There’s a certain rush that comes with scoring the sweetest deals on electronics, clothes, and toys so close to Christmas. But can Black Friday be a wholly positive activity considering all the stress, anxiety, and in some cases, uncharacteristic behavior, the day can bring? Studies show that impulse buys can be triggered by hedonic motivations in our brains. In short, making a big, flashy purchase makes us happy. Saving a bunch of money on that purchase only makes us happier. But stretches of poor mental health can sometimes be associated with making impulsive decisions, like the ones so many Americans make on Black Friday. As you map out your shopping strategy, be sure to prioritize your mental wellness this year.
Black Friday can trigger phobias, anxiety
Seas of strangers making loud noises and unpredictable decisions can set off your fight-or-flight response, particularly if you are an anxious person by nature. The fight-or-flight response is a result of acute stress, which in this case would be environmental. The body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated by a sudden release of hormones during the fight-or-flight response that tends to increase the blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate. A 2011 study analyzing consumer behavior on Black Friday found that while many shoppers were polite and courteous, negative customer behaviors were observed as well. These included visible anxiety, fatigue and irritable aggression that led to cursing and shouting at other customers and retail workers.
Compulsive shopping is in some cases associated with depression
People with compulsive buying disorder (CBD) may naturally gravitate toward the Black Friday festivities, which could spur some to spend more money than they have. That can be the allure of a great discount. According to World Psychiatry, depression, anxiety, boredom, self-critical thoughts, and anger were recurring emotions linked to study subjects with CBD.
Tips on avoiding Black Friday shopping anxiety
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Don’t shop alone.
- Create a budget and stick to it.
After Black Friday comes about three more weeks of intense holiday shopping for most folks. So, here are a few more tips to keep in mind as the calendar flips to December:
- When you shop at stores, shop here and there throughout the next month so you don’t have to cram two or three big shopping days into the final week before Christmas.
- Avoid traffic, busy stores, and the peak hours of those busy stores whenever possible.
- Purchase with a purpose: Avoid buying gifts without a recipient in mind.
- If you experience buyer’s remorse and feel like some of your purchases were the result of compulsive buying, return the item(s).
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes when you shop.
- Shop with friends or family who will hold you accountable.