Black Friday is the day expert shoppers put their deal-finding prowess to the test. If you favor a pre-dawn start or all-day shopping over sleep and relaxing with a leftover turkey sandwich, it's important to plan ahead and not over-do it, health professionals say.
Here are seven ways health experts recommend you reduce stress and stay healthy while getting your shop on.
1. Wear comfortable shoes and layered clothing.
Sometimes fashion may be worth a little pain — but not on Black Friday. You'll do your feet a favor if you wear comfortable sneakers or flats because you'll be walking around all day, said Dr. Lawrence Dell, of Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Michigan.
Inappropriate footwear can lead to arch and heel pain or blisters, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. A 2009 study in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism found that women who wore supportive footwear, like sneakers, were 67 percent less likely to report foot pain than women who wore high heels and sandals.
And don lots of layers, because there are bound to be fluctuating temperatures as you go dash from store to store, Dell recommended. Some stores may pump the air conditioning at full blast to accommodate anticipated crowds, which, according to a 2004 study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, can help move infectious organisms throughout the building.
2. Tackle money issues early to lower seasonal stress levels.
For many, money-related woes will figure into seasonal shopping.
"Openly discuss any financial limitations that may be occurring and how you might approach the holidays with this in mind," said Scott Bea, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Though Bea recommends finding discounted goods online on Cyber Monday to avoid the shopping rush, mentally preparing for an all-day shopping fest may help to keep stress at bay.
3. Be prepared when you wait in line.
Camping outside a store for that special deal? It's cold during the early-morning hours, so plan ahead and bring a sleeping bag, or lawn chair to sit on while you wait. The other people in line will envy your foresight.
And make sure to bring a raincoat, umbrella or rain boots if the weather forecast is gloomy, Dell said. Although colds and the flu are brought on by viruses, not rain, research has shown that exposure to the elements can cause sickness. A 2005 study in the journal Family Practice found that when comparing 90 people who put their feet in cold water for 20 minutes with 90 people who did not, the ones who chilled their feet were twice as likely to have the symptoms of cold over the next five days.
4. Sleep in heavenly peace, for at least six hours.
There's no way you'll last the entire day — without burdening your immune system — if you didn't get enough rest the night before, Dell said. If you're waking up super early, be sure you go to sleep early, to account for the lost hours of shut-eye.
After all, a study published in May this year in the journal Sleep found that people who regularly get six or fewer hours of sleep a night increased their chance of dying early.
5. Get vaccinated.
Black Friday is just the start of shopping season — and it's also whooping cough season and the beginning of flu season. Experts recommend getting vaccinated to brace for the crowds you're likely to find yourself in over the coming weeks, lest you bring an unwanted "gift" home to your family. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting a flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available.
6. Fuel your body to maximize the shopping day.
Shopping can be a workout, so be sure to eat a good breakfast in the morning, Dell said. Bring snack bars that are high in protein to keep you energized, and fresh fruits to keep your blood sugar levels up.
By bringing a water bottle that you can refill at water fountains, you can stay hydrated in an economical and eco-friendly way. In severe cases, dehydration can lead to diarrhea, fever, vomiting and sweating, and more seriously, kidney failure and swelling of the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic.
7. Don't lose focus in the food court.
If you're on immunosuppressant drugs or have a sensitive stomach, you may want to pack a lunch for your shopping excursion. If you do eat at the food court, make sure heated foods are heated properly, Dell said. Be sure the staff is wearing gloves, and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands before eating.
And to maintain portion control, don't be fooled by fast food sizes labeled "small." Such labels can fool your brain into overindulging because you think you're eating less than a "large" size, according to an upcoming study in the Journal of Consumer Research.