Culture 24 November 2016
In a consumer culture that has dominated the entire millennium, buying at the holidays has become more important than the calendar holidays themselves, and none more so than the ever growing monster that is the weekend after Thanksgiving.
The term "Black Friday" was coined in the 1960’s by Philadelphia police officers for the day after Thanksgiving when there would be a rush to the big department stores after the country’s most gluttonous day for filled bags, rather than stomachs. Traffic jams and stewarding headaches became synonymous with the day for the police, but for the stores it was a matter of only one thing - profit.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have now overtaken Christmas Eve on the spending spectrum, with the invented holidays firmly grounded in the stratosphere of bargain, attracting the masses who simply cannot miss out on the price cuts, deals and gift cards offer on the day. In 2015, the final estimate for in-store sales on Black Friday was in the region of $10.4 billion, and while it may have been down 10 percent from the previous year, that doesn’t necessarily mean the overall spending was down.
After its introduction ten years ago, Cyber Monday’s popularity has grown substantially, and this year is set to be its biggest yet. The often videoed mania of Black Friday has detracted those slow, peaceful shoppers from physically pounding the pavement on the crazy day, instead relaxing in the confines of their home — cozy over laptops — to execute their more efficient and infinitely less stressful holiday shopping.
To combat the fear of sites crashing and blogging hysteria, many retailers who engage in online sales have already begun ‘advance sales’ and the holiday is now becoming a week-long event.
Indeed, many retailers who participated in online sales last year found their online profit exceeded expectations, and in some cases, even exceeded in-store sales.
This year sees Apple return to festive bargaining. Having skipped last year's event (allowing resellers do much of their work for them), they return this year with an ambiguous promise of a ‘one-day shopping event’. Given how well their products performed at resale last year, projectionists admit that even with their participation on the day, their sales cannot hope to mimic those of Target and co. for iPad and Apple watch sales. So why return?
Apple is following the trend that began the bargaining nature of the holiday in the first place. With people saving in the summer months or spending in areas of recreation or holidaying, i.e. away from retailers, and spending slowing in the fall because of increased schooling expenditure, retailers are almost desperate by Thanksgiving for profit that invariably anything will be done to attract the masses. The iPhone 7’s middling start could well have been one of the main components in Apple’s decision to return to bargain busting.
Overall, this year is set up to be an interesting one spending wise. While economic growth has been on the rise the entire year and forecasts on the East coast protecting it be a cold but relatively calm day, could our friend the Internet be the major upset in in-store sales? As confidence grows in online shopping, could the tech-savvy exceed the hassle of in-store spending in the coming years? And if so - Black Friday as was originally known for the black thicket of crowds, could soon become an obsolete term.
Here are 10 things you may not know about these two wallet-busting days...
1. Thanksgiving day shoppers increased by a whopping 10 million last year from 2014 leading those who are normally closed on the day to re-evaluate their stance on holiday closures this year.
2. The recession in 2008 caused a very clear shift in the number of people seeking bargains and deals. Previous to this, there was more emphasis on the day on spending rather than saving.
3. Last year Target shattered its online sales but customers were kept on the site for up to 40 minutes trying to check out! This year they're applying the same discounts in store to combat and have updated their sites capabilities to deal with the inevitable buyers.
4. Almost 50 percent of all cyber Monday buys were made from mobile phones.
5. 75 percent of those mobile spends were made on iOS devices.
6. Sales on Cyber Monday between 2012 and 2015 jumped $1 billion with the trend expected to double this year.
7. 2015 marked the fourth year of Walmart workers' protests on Black Friday, protesting an $8.40 minimum wage while company shareholders are collectively worth $145 billion.
8. Roughly 10 percent of shoppers on cyber Monday will find their item has sold out by the time they've arrived at check out.
9. A Black Friday stampede in 2008 caused the death of a Walmart employee, highlighting the mania surrounding the holiday and the avaricious nature of bargain hunters.
10. Less than 20 percent of bargain hunters look to shop on Thanksgiving day questioning the purpose of opening on such a day and depriving workers of the holiday.
5 min read
When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.
The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.
While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.
Risks of Reaching for Another Drink
Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.
Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.
While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.
Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress
Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!
Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:
- Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
- Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
- Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.
Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.
Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First
It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.
However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.
If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.
I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.