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Don’t let the holidays stress you out

Posted on November 29, 2013

“They weren’t thinking logically amidst the hyperarousal and stress” consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, PhD, about the neuropsychologic influences associated with shopping.

Does this sound familiar? As crowds of people rush out today on Black Friday I sit and wonder what is it that motivates people to go out and surround themselves with throngs of people all rushing to get the best “bargains” this holidayseason. It turns out I’m not the only one trying to understand why people subject themselves to the madness of the holiday shopping season.

Dr Kit Yarrow, PhD, consumer psychologist and professor at Golden Gate University studies this very issue. I came across an interesting article in Medscape, about Why We Shop: The Neuropsychology of Consumption.

While saving and bargain hunting are certainly motivators for some, tradition and spending time with family is another reason for many. Whether you’re motivated by the dollar or nostalgic for tradition, it appears that much of your behavior is tied to emotions and the connections that we have with other people. Regardless of your reasoning there is a neurologic connection with the parts of your brain associated with emotion that are activated when you shop.

Keep in mind that the responses that we have when shopping are not all reward by any means. Because of the increase in stress that comes with a crowded, sensory overloaded shopping experience we are often times making decisions that are more reactive than thoughtful.

So while you’re rushing out to buy that last minute holiday gift or fighting the crowds to get the best deals, let’s not forget what we’re doing in the first place. We are usually getting gifts for the people in our lives that are important to us. Perhaps the gift that we can give them that gives back to you in healthy ways is to simply spend time with them and treasure those moments as gifts.

Eat good food and drive carefully,

Sam