IT’S that time of year when everyone starts to think about Christmas shopping.
We all have our own way of doing things, whether it’s getting organised early doors or scrambling around on Christmas Eve to find that perfect gift.
While it might seem like a stressful task, one expert has said it can actually be good for your health.
Speaking to The Sun, psychologist, Kate Nightingale said that with Black Friday coming up, many Brits are looking to bag a bargain in time for the festive season.
She said: “So-called ‘retail therapy’ has become a modern cliché and yet it is backed by scientific evidence showing that bagging a bargain can contribute to your well-being.
“Doing so releases the feel-good factor as it feeds the brain reward centre.”
Kate stated that for many people, shopping isn’t about materialism and that it’s also good for both your physical and mental health.
This is because it can ignite positive emotions in the short term and reduce stress in uncertain times, she said.
The guru said that for some, shopping can become a form of escapism.
“With this in mind, along with consumers now adapting and taking control of their expenses to moderate the impact of high levels of inflation, the experience of bagging a bargain, will be heightened, and doing so releases the feel-good factor as it feeds the brain reward centre.
“Levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter released during pleasurable experiences including sex, can rise sharply even when you’re merely window shopping.
“It can have a lasting positive impact on mood even lifting lingering sadness thanks to the positive impact on the sense of control, up to 40 times higher when we purchase an item we enjoy,” she added.
A study published in 2014 found that making shopping decision can help reinforce a sense of personal control over the environment we are in.
Writing in the Journal of Consumer Psychology experts found that retail therapy not only makes people happier immediately, but it can also fight lingering sadness.
Another 2014 paper, penned by experts at the University of Michigan revealed that buying things you personally like can be 40 times more effective at giving you a sense of control than not shopping.
The guru said that one of the best times to get out and do your Christmas haul, is after work.
Kate added that a study in Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, showed that small experiential leisure activities after work are much more effective in reducing exhaustion than less frequent longer breaks like holidays.
She explained that the psychological detachment from work that these leisure activities warrant is the reason for the reduced exhaustion and it is especially effective for individuals that work under time pressure.
Kate, who is working with LondonDesignerOutlet, explained that buying a product on a deal makes you feel victorious and what is truly powerful about this is the sense of accomplishment that comes with it, she said.
She explained that you almost feel like you’ve been ‘recognised’ for your shopping prowess, when you get something for cheaper than usual.
However, she acknowledged that there is still fear anxiety related to economic challenges that shopping for Christmas presents might throw up.
“As social animals, human sense of safety is connected to a sense of belonging and community, a basic need challenged for many over the last few years.
“Finding meaningful moments with friends and family, for example, sharing an experience of shopping can alleviate feelings of social isolation and uncertainty, resulting in improved mood and well-being.” she said.