As many celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, the rest of us may enjoy the spin-off benefits of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Yet these events can also bring feelings of stress and anxiety for many.
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is traditionally the Friday that follows the celebration of Thanksgiving, held on the last Thursday of November each year in the United States. It is when shops and online retailers offer discounts on everyday goods – offers often held out to be ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ deals, urging shoppers to snap them up immediately.
Black Friday cannot only create anxiety, but it can also take away valuable family time. Many Black Friday sales begin the night of Thanksgiving, so instead of eating dessert, resting with family and friends, and sharing laughs, many people leave the house to stand in never-ending lines to get their hands on a coveted sale item.
The annual barrage of advertisements is tempting, with so many deals on desirables such as technology, clothing, and toys. But is Black Friday worth the anxiety and time lost with family members?
Taking its toll
Black Friday is the official start of the holiday shopping season in the US and elsewhere, primarily to purchase items that will be given as Christmas presents the following month. Yet, for many, holiday shopping anxiety takes a toll. You are not alone if you struggle with feeling anxious about holiday shopping.
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 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 curb your anxiety and give you time to spend with your family and friends. Cyber Monday is the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend. This allows bargain hunters to shop online from the comfort of their homes or offices without having to deal with the crowds, long queues, and of course, the anxiety that comes with the elements of Black Friday that cause the most stress.
Retailers induce anxiety
Retailers are known to induce anxiety among holiday shoppers by depicting deals as being singular or exclusive. The usage of phrases such as “This deal will only last for 24 hours” or “Get them before it’s too late” all contribute to this anxiety.
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, so resist temptation if you can, and don’t become a slave to rampant consumer marketing tactics.
Compulsive buying and anxiety
Compulsive buying (more 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 due to their shopping behavior.
Additionally, compulsive shopping behavior is often accompanied by feelings of anxiety or depression.
How to avoid shopping anxiety
- Shop little by little throughout the year- avoid that sense of urgency when shopping;
- 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 and stick to it;
- Shop with people who will hold you accountable for your purchases;
- 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 experienced an episode of compulsive buying, then take action and return the item; and
- Do not get into the cycle of buying and returning, as this can also become a compulsion.
Enjoy the holidays
Remember – the holiday period is supposed to be a time of contentment, relaxation, and enjoying the company of others. Avoid the temptation to be drawn into the atmosphere blatantly spread by retailers that you must spend, spend, and spend today to enjoy tomorrow.
Ultimately, things will be the same tomorrow as they are today – the deals are likely to still be there if you look for them. You might also just feel a little better about yourself for avoiding the unnecessary stress the retail industry sought to impose on you.
Do you feel under pressure to spend money this holiday weekend? Do you feel that retailers exploit consumers and can cause anxiety by doing so? Let us know in the comments.