London - Everyone dreads the stress of Christmas shopping, with its huge crowds fighting for a bargain and the overcrowded car parks.
Now a psychologist has claimed that the experience is so painful, it sparks the primal “fight or flight” mechanism.
Dr David Lewis, founder of the independent research consultancy Mindlab International, says people become aggressive while they are doing their shopping because the swarming crowds activate basic survival mechanisms.
He says the experience can also cause exhaustion and anxiety as well as guilt and feelings of inadequacy, The Telegraph reports.
He says people who go into the cities just for Christmas shopping are most at risk of adverse effects as they are not used to the crowds.
Lewis told the paper: “Festive cheer all too easily gives way to seasonal shopping stress.
“The presence of other people is a major factor. Other people present a great threat and strangers are more of a threat.
“You can begin to see people who are moving more slowly than you, such as an elderly person, as the enemy. It leads to shopping rage.”
He said that in these circumstances, a person’s heart rate increases, they sweat more and their body starts to produce cortisol – the stress hormone.
He said this can promote aggression but that it can also make people want to escape, meaning some will leave a trolley full of shopping as they cannot bear to spend any more time in the crowd.
There is, however, some good news for shoppers.
Lewis says there are ways to make the experience less stressful.
He says people should draw up a shopping list as this makes it easier to avoid unnecessary impulse buys.
His second tip is that people should not shop while hungry as they buy more food when they are hungry and then end up throwing a lot of it away.
Also, shoppers should walk away and think carefully before purchasing expensive presents as once they have walked away they’ll often change their mind.
Finally, he says that people should do as much shopping as possible online so that when they do visit the shopping mall, they can take in the festive atmosphere in a more relaxed fashion. – Daily Mail