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The holiday season may be a time of giving, but the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping could be giving you a dose of something more than you anticipated – high stress, burnout and an elevated heart rate.

A study conducted by ecommerce giant eBay found that Christmas shoppers experienced a 33% increase in their heart rates, which the researchers say is “on par with running a marathon,” according to the study.

What’s more, nearly nine in 10 shoppers (88%) experienced a clinical case of tachycardia, a condition that occurs when the heart beats more than 100 times per minute. Tachycardia can lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain and shortness of breath. In rare cases, it can lead to unconsciousness and cardiac arrest.

The study, which eBay conducted with tech company Lightwave, assessed the biometric data of 100 individuals in London as they endured the yearly ritual of Christmas shopping. Ultimately, the researchers found that even well under 60 minutes of shopping can cause undue stress and potential health problems.

Hitting the shopping wall

Using Lightwave’s wearable technology, the researchers monitored a range of physiological responses during an hour-long shopping spree as the study participants sought out holiday presents for friends and family. The researchers assessed heart rate, electrodermal activity, blood rate, skin temperature and pulse, according to the study.

It didn’t take long for shoppers to hit a stumbling block – after 32 minutes, the shoppers hit what the researchers term a “wall of disenchantment,” during which time they lost interest in their retail browsing and never recovered.

The high-stress component of holiday shopping may be leading to burnout and essentially sending consumers on an emotional rollercoaster. The researchers call the wall of disenchantment a “tipping point when thoughtful gift buying is lost.”

“The study also highlights the very real physiological pressure that Christmas shopping places on us all,” notes the study. Researchers found that certain groups were affected more than others. Almost 90% of those over the age of 45 label Christmas shopping “an extremely intense experience.” Women also found holiday shopping more burdensome – 67% reported high stress levels compared to 56% of men.

Interestingly, self-identified planners felt more pressure during the holiday shopping experience than consumers who went about their gift search with a laissez-faire attitude.

Christmas shopping increases heart rate

Seeking calm amid the storm

To overcome the Christmas season being a time of perpetual stress, the researchers recommend drawing inspiration from your exercise routine and seek out a “high intensity interval shopping” experience.

“The study shows that short bursts of shopping can make you less stressed and potentially more thoughtful in your buying habits this Christmas,” said Rhian Bartlett, Retail Director at eBay.

“Bite size browsing, such as taking 10 minutes to shop via mobile on commute or purchasing single items during a lunch break can decrease stress and promote more mindful shopping,” added Bartlett.

As you consider a short-burst approach to shopping this year, the new study provides a good excuse to make time for a stress-busting, anxiety-eroding massage at your local mall.

More tips to manage stress during the holidays:

  1. Kick Tradition to the Curb

Changing up your holiday routine can help tremendously—especially if you have some bad memories connected to old traditions. For example, instead of going home, you could take a vacation with your time off.

  1. Change “Have to” to “Get to”

Simply changing the way you talk about obligations can lift your mood. Try it out. Instead of: I have to spend time with Uncle Charlie every Christmas Eve, try: I GET to spend time with Uncle Charlie every Christmas Eve.

  1. Lower Your Expectations

Something is bound to happen unexpectedly – whether an unexpected family member shows up last minute, or the ham burns to bits. But really, in the end, are you with the people the matter most to you? Then you’re really lucky.

 

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