Shoppers hurried through the aisles in Target during Black Friday. Credit: Getty Images
Holiday season can be stressful, and to top it with the biggest shopping trip of the year seems somehow like self-torture. But with the right attitude (and shoes!), it could end up being a really cool day. At least, that's the hope, because according to Dr. Eudene Harry, medical director of Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center in Orlando, Florida and author of "Anxiety 101," stress is more serious than most people realize – and so is the stress you sweep away as an annual holiday ritual.
“If you really want to be healthy and happy you have got to pay attention to your stress levels,” she told Metro while explaining hormones and neurochemicals will be released and how people can put themselves at risk of high blood pressure. But what if it’s just for one day, like Black Friday?
“Is it just for a day?” she responded. “That level of anxiety and angst that you are going through on that day, it tends to last longer. The body takes a lot longer time to drop all those neurochemicals.”
That set off our alarm bells, so we asked for tips on how to manage our health on the biggest shopping day of the year.
Metro: What is your experience with people stressing around Thanksgiving and Black Friday?
Harry: On a non-Thanksgiving Friday, we have about 18 percent of the population being stressed. So imagine the holiday stress on top of that. It becomes tremendous. I don’t have any specific statistics, but as you look around your life and at yourself, who admits to be stressed is a better question. It might be 20 or 30 percent that don’t admit to it, but the truth is that the majority of us experience stress around the holidays.
Why is the holiday season often so stressful?
Because of the expectations we put on ourselves. We expect that we are going to create this perfect event. We have been waiting all year and we are putting a lot on this holiday season. It might be family strain that has gone on all year that we are now expected to put behind us and pretend that everything is ok, so the holiday season, is in my opinion, has a lot of expectations, and that’s ultimately what creates the stress. Let go of what it should look like.
Shopping can be stressful and you might end up buying too much in the blur of offers. How do you plan a shopping strategy so you don’t end up feeling bad?
The first thing I say is, once again: expectations. Many times we want to impress, we want to get the perfect gift for someone, we might be competing with other people. Before you go shopping, you've got to set a budget for yourself because the last thing you need after the season is looking at a credit card bill and wondering ‘how in the world am I going to pay this off?' Look at you finances and know what you are able to afford and not able to afford. Everything revolves around a plan. Do your research. Do they have the things that you need, is it the price that you want to pay?
What is the most common way most people tend to over-do it on Black Friday?
Ah, yes. They want to go to too many stores. Picture this: You are already stressed out, you wake up in the morning at 3 or 4 a.m., which already makes us a little cranky, then we go fighting traffic which makes us even more cranky, then there is a long line and your perception is that people are rude and pushy. It can really, by the end of the day, become a very stressful event. So what you want to do is set that day out for yourself. If the traffic is going to be a nightmare, you might want to plan for that. You might want to take a snack and the right music, so you are not getting extremely angst by the time you get there. If the lines are long, look at it as a challenge. It’s a treasure hunt and you are going to look for something that you want.
What should you eat and drink on the day?
Before you go out, you should start up with a good breakfast because nothing makes you crankier than when you are hungry. Keep in mind if you do coffee, that can stress you out more. It can increase your anxiety level and what it can also do is make you want to use the bathroom a lot, which is not very convenient when you are Black Friday shopping. You want to take healthy snacks like nuts. If you want a quick sugar boost, take fruit with you. And a bottle of water is great.
What about clothing. What is comforting and relaxing?
Ladies. This is not the time to be wearing these 4-inch high-heels. They might look fabulous, but after an hour, you want to take them off. Wear something comfortable and loose. I know it’s great to wear something adorable at the mall, but on a day like this, nobody is looking. This is the perfect day to be comfortable.
Should we shop alone or with other people?
It depends on your personality. What are your goals? If you go in there, get what you need and want it as quick as possible, then you want to be alone. If you go to create an experience with this, then you might want to take a friend with you. But you really need to pick a friend who you know is consistent with the way you want to go shopping. F
We guess men and woman tackle the stress of shopping differently, right?
Men tend to be very goal oriented — they know exactly what they want. They just go and pick that up. Women tend to be more of a general shopper. They like to explore things, look at things, sample things. So if you are married and that’s the way it is, perhaps you may not want to do Black Friday shopping with your husband, because you guys want to get along for the rest of the holiday.
Can you say that directly to him or her?
Honesty and discussion are important to establish what it is that you want to experience and what they want to experience. And it is ok if you don’t want to experience the same things. When you talk about it openly like this, it doesn’t allow for arguments to come up.