This Is The Cause Of Christmas Shopping Stress, And It's Not The Queues

Making sure you get everything that you need, trying to stay within budget and fighting your way through the crowds on public transport and in the shops, can make for a very chaotic time.

Christmas shopping is stressful! Making sure you get everything that you need, trying to stay within budget and fighting your way through the crowds on public transport and in the shops, can make for a very chaotic time.
However, research has proven that it isn't actually the crowds, the queues or the mayhem of finding the right present that cause us to become stressed, it is actually the noise that surrounds it.
In fact, the scientific study found that Christmas shopping noise causes a 16% drop in our emotional wellbeing compared to a normal shopping day. And the noise surrounding the festive period ranks higher than roadworks or hearing a baby cry.
The study also concluded that wearing noise-cancelling headphones whilst Christmas shopping can increase levels of happiness by as much as 17% when enjoying music with no background disturbances
The research, conducted by Sony in partnership with Patrick Fagan, an expert in behavioural science and Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths University, found that shoppers report comparatively low levels of happiness and wellbeing when bombarded with the sounds of Christmas shopping during peak times.
With the stress of Christmas shopping noise affecting our emotional wellbeing, it is surprising that as a nation we don’t even recognise this in our top five Christmas stresses, with these identified as:
  • Busy streets and queues (43.6%)
  • Finding the perfect present for a loved one (25.6%)
  • Getting everything ready on time (23.1%)
  • Spending long periods of time with in-laws (11.9%)
  • Getting all the ingredients for your Christmas dinner (10.9%)
But when asked what sounds did they think might impact them the most, the top five were highlighted as:
  • Crowd noises (26%)
  • Children crying for the toys they want (23.6%)
  • Christmas songs playing on loop (21.9%)
  • Shop assistants trying to talk to you whilst you're browsing (21.4%)
  • Tannoy announcements or adverts for Christmas deals (14.1%)
"We frequently worry about our stress levels in the chaos of the lead-up to Christmas," Patrick said. "However, the research has proven that actually, the noise of festive shopping is having a strong impact on our overall feelings of happiness and short-term wellbeing."
“As a nation, a staggering 88% don’t wear headphones when out shopping; however, wearing such tech appears to increase happiness and feelings of wellbeing and can provide a simple solution during this stressful time.”
Following the research, Patrick recommends a few simple measures that can be taken to negate the impact of Christmas sounds:
  • Take regular breaks – It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the shopping rat-race, but almost a quarter (23%) of the nation recommend taking regular breaks in a shopping trip to reduce feelings of stress. One in five (18%) even bring along a magazine or book to truly switch off from their shopping. From a psychological point of view, the brain is like a muscle with limited energy, and bombarding it with too much information causes stress. Breaks allow our brains to recover from all the stimulation of Christmas shopping.
  • Think about the noise – The study found that listening to relaxing music, combined with the noise-cancelling capabilities of Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones, remedied feelings of negativity and increased levels of happiness by as much as 17%. Previous psychological research has consistently shown that music affects thoughts and feelings; use this insight to manage your mood during your Christmas shopping.
  • Leave early - A third (33%) of the public recommend you make sure you’ve left yourself enough time, not only to beat the crowds, but so you aren’t rushed if you have limited time. We know from peer-reviewed studies that time pressure increases cognitive effort and therefore stress; giving yourself plenty of time gives your brain the room to do what it needs.

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