We all know the age-old tale…the wife goes into the grocery store for a gallon of milk and comes out with eggs, butter, bread, broccoli, macaroni and cheese, but…no milk. Why? Information overload. When we walk in the grocery store, our brains are overwhelmed with stimuli. In a futile attempt at efficiency the brain says, “while I am here, I may as well get this and this and…oh yeah, I need some more of that.”
We are all facing information overload now in every aspect of our lives. It often feels out of control, and specifically, out of OUR control. Yet where, when and how we shop is in our control. Big box stores have become the extreme example of the case of the forgotten milk. Instead of just groceries and basic household items, we walk into a box store and walk out hours later with prescriptions, groceries, cleaning supplies, school supplies, make-up, clothing, toys, unnecessary kitchen appliances, phone chargers and lunch from subway because we are (obviously) too tired to prep and cook any of the groceries we purchased during the trip.
We come out feeling like we’ve knocked a lot of things off our “to do” list, yet we are completely exhausted and the only thing we have really done is one: shopping. Worse yet, we start up the car and realize we forgot something, which is inevitable because in a store like that there will always be something else we “need” or a coupon we forgot to use.
How is this bad for our health? It steals our peace. It adds to our overwhelm. It breaks our budget. It adds to our stress level; not the opposite. We all know by now that stress is one of the most physically damaging things to our health so it stands to reason that big box stores are more of a problem than a solution if we are wanting to feel more peaceful or live more simple lives.
Yesterday I went into the grocery store, went straight to the paper household goods aisle, found both paper towels and toilet paper on sale (probably the same price as a big box store), and walked out WITHOUT a cart full of groceries. Do I need groceries? Yes, absolutely. I will go today. As for yesterday, I walked out of the store rather quickly with a peaceful mind and a breath of fresh air.