I keep seeing the colorful images on television: people racing through stores and the malls to catch those spectacular "Black Friday" deals. Even watching it from afar I can feel my palms getting sweaty, the light-headedness kicking in and that nagging twitch in my eye. The thought of tackling just the parking lot on that day sends me into the anxiety death spiral, and I know I'm not alone. I love a bargain just like the next savvy shopper, but the notion of shopping on one of the busiest retail days of the year is absolutely frightening to me. I would love to be able to partake (sort of) in this frenzy of festive shopping, but I would also like to have some tools at my disposal to quell the feelings of anxiety that I will likely experience when I pull my car into those parking lots. Fortunately for me, Clinical Psychologist Jennifer Powell-Lunder offers me (and other Black Friday avoiders) some helpful tips on how to shop (or not) on this shopping day of all days.
1.) If you are easily overwhelmed by large crowds and chaos, Black Friday is not for you!
2.) Have a plan before you set out. Make a schedule of all the stores you want to visit and try to stick to it. Write it down so you have a reference. In the midst of the chaos, try to remember your plan will keep you focused, which will cut down on the stress you may feel in the throes of the crowds.
3.) Keep it all in perspective. This is shopping, it is supposed to be fun! If you start to feel overwhelmed, relax, take a deep breath, have a cup of coffee (preferably de-caf!)
4.) If you realize your goals for the day were too lofty, take a quick look at your schedule and cross off the stores you can get to another day. Taking on too much can be quite anxiety provoking!
5.) Remain calm. If you are with your children, remember--- they look to you to learn how to act. Anxiety begets anxiety.
6.) In reference to #5, be respectful to fellow shoppers even if they do not offer you the same respect. That toy is really not worth fighting over!
7.) Know when to call it quits. If you are feeling stressed and agitated, go home.
8.) Don't forget about the Internet! These days some of the best deals can be secured in the comfort of your own home!
9.) Go shopping with someone who keeps you calm and laughing! Avoid a cranky spouse or taking small children.
10.) HAVE FUN! Get into the holiday spirit. You can feel it in the air. Take notice of the decorations. They are bound to make you smile as you remember what it is all really about!
More likely than not I'll be using tip #8 as my guide this holiday season. While I love the lights, the sounds and the spirit of the season nothing in the world would make me want to tackle the lines, the mile-long walk to the store and the feverish gleam that seems to scream, "I need this" in my fellow shoppers' eyes. I think Cyber Monday just might be the ticket for me. For those brave souls who are getting up early, doing their stretches and marking up their fliers: Happy Hunting!