Holiday consumerism and the toll it takes on mental health

December 13, 2021

For some, the holiday season is a favourite time of year, while others relate more to Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Christmas’. There are many reasons for this but one source of discontent during this season is the consumerism.

Many sources over the last 15 years have reported on the exposure to advertising skyrocketing in the last 50 years. The average person in the 1970’s viewed approximately 500 ads per day, while in 2021 the average person is exposed to anywhere between 5000-10,000 ads per day. The usual pressures to consume are amplified in November and December. Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year in Canada followed by Boxing Day and Cyber Monday. The pressure is set to spend large amounts of money in order to show loved ones how much they are truly valued. Not to mention spending endless hours online shopping and buying presents at an overpopulated mall can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Even worse, it’s detrimental to financial wellbeing and can negatively impact mental health.

The sense that consumerism had taken over the season started in Victorian England (1901-1937). This is also when consumers started to be encouraged to shop early as a way to spare overworked shop assistants and delivery boys. Fast forward to the current headlines about the conditions of overworked employees at Amazon Fulfilment centers. This proves overconsumption during the holidays is not new and very little has changed, but now there is the “convenience” of being able to shop 24/7.

The stress of it all can be overwhelming. So what can be done? For a start, breathe, relax, set realistic expectations, and always reach out for help when necessary. And remember to be grateful for what really matters, at least there won’t be any exams to worry about!

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