WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Christmas shopping is so stressful that it will spark a primal fear, according to psychologist Dr. David Lewis.

“Festive cheer all too easily gives way to seasonal shopping stress,” Dr. Lewis, of MindLab International told the Telegraph.

Dr. Lewis says that the number of people shopping at Christmas time triggers survival instincts which increase aggression. “The presence of other people is a major factor,” Dr. Lewis added. “Other people present a great threat and strangers are more of a threat.”

He feels everything people encounter during shopping this time of year can add to a person’s aggression such as longs lines and trouble finding a parking spot. “You can begin to see people who are moving more slowly than you, such as an elderly person, as the enemy,” he added. “It leads to shopping range.”

According to Dr. Lewis, the body reverts to a state of ‘fight or flight.’ “Your heart rate begins to go up as you try to push through the crowd. There will be an increase in sweating. You might start producing more of the stress hormone cortisol,” he went on to say. “This will encourage aggressive behavior but also when people are distressed that are going to try and get away. People will abandon a full trolley because they can’t face being in the shop a moment longer.”

People who don’t live in major cities are more susceptible to stress because they aren’t use to the crowds, according to Dr. Lewis.

Dr. Lewis gave the paper four tips to enjoy stress-free shopping. First, he says to make a list. “Much of the stress of shopping is due to unfamiliarity with the shops,” Dr. Lewis said.

Second, never shop when you’re hungry. “It’s been proven that when you are hungry and go shopping you buy far too much and end up throwing a lot away,” Dr. Lewis added. “The sorts of food we crave when hungry are high in sugar and fats.”

Third, always walk away and think before buying a big ticket item. “For big ticket items always think about the purchase for a while,” he said. “Chances are, after walking away, you won’t value it as much.”

And finally, learn the difference between ‘doing the shopping’ and ‘going shopping.’ “Doing the shopping is a chore. It’s shopping for items like cat litter and toilet roll and it’s unlikely to be very stimulating,” Dr. Lewis said. He suggests one way to cut down on stress is to buy those kind of things online.

Dr. Lewis says shopping can be enjoyable. “However going shopping can be very enjoyable,” he added. “If you don’t have anything you particularly want you can browse and enjoy the ambiance of Christmas, like carol singing.”


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