Black Friday cannot only create anxiety, but it can also take away from valuable family time. Many Black Friday sales begin the night of Thanksgiving, so instead of eating dessert and sharing laughs, many people leave the house to stand in never-ending lines to get their hands on a coveted sale item. The advertisements are tempting with so many steep deals on technology, clothing and toys, but is Black Friday worth the anxiety and time lost with family members?

Black Friday is the official start of the holiday shopping season, but for many, holiday shopping anxiety takes a toll. If you struggle with feeling anxious about holiday shopping, you are not alone. Our society sets certain expectations about how wonderful the holidays should be. We are told that giving and receiving gifts should make us feel happy. These expectations often escalate very quickly and can become so grandiose that their fulfillment is no longer plausible. This leaves many individuals riddled with anxiety.

Taking a break from Black Friday shopping may not only curb your anxiety, but will also give you time to spend with your family and friends. Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving and allows you to shop online from the comfort of your home or office without having to deal with the crowds, long lines and the crippling anxiety that comes with these Black Friday stressors.

How retailers induce anxiety around the holidays

Retailers are known to promote a level of anxiety among holiday shoppers by depicting deals as being singular or exclusive, such as: “This deal will only last for 24 hours.”

Insisting that a deal is only good on a particular day or during a short window of time creates a sense of urgency, even if that deal might become available elsewhere during the year. This sense of urgency in marketing can promote anxiety in consumers because they fear they will miss out. These simple messages are advertising ploys to increase consumerism. Realistically, there are deals on items throughout the year.

Compulsive buying and anxiety

Compulsive buying, formally known as oniomania, is an impulsive and compulsive behavior that results in excessive, repetitive, and chronic purchasing of items. This behavior can eventually result in detrimental financial and emotional consequences. Generally, an individual who engages in compulsive buying is filling a void associated with negative emotions. This should not be confused with occasional retail therapy. Individuals who engage in compulsive buying often have problems with relationships and finances as a result of their shopping behavior. Additionally, compulsive shopping behavior is often accompanied by depression and anxiety.

How to avoid shopping anxiety around the holidays

  • Shop little by little, throughout the year
  • Shop at thrift stores, garage sales and sales throughout the year to save money
  • Only buy a gift if it serves a purpose, in other words, do not shop without a purpose
  • Create a detailed shopping list and stick to it
  • Create a budget
  • Shop with people who will hold you accountable
  • Never shop when you are experiencing negative feelings
  • Only carry a certain amount of cash with you if you feel you may overspend
  • If you had an episode of compulsive buying, then take action and return the item
  • Do not get into the cycle of buying and returning, as this can also become a compulsion

If you feel you need additional help managing stress this holiday season, Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program is here to help. Contact us today.

Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a clinical content writer and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of mental health and addiction medicine. She is a family medicine physician and author who also teaches and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies within educating the public on preventable diseases including mental health disorders and the stigma associated with them. She is also an outdoor activist and spends most of her free time empowering other women to get outside into the backcountry.

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