Summer. It’s a season when tons of us embrace the idea of “less.” Less work, less stress and, for many of us, less clothing. Then, of course, what we at Postconsumers call “Consumer Season” starts. It begins with the “Back-to-School Shopping Rush” and continues on to holiday shopping (which begins in October for many retailers!) through Valentine’s Day. As a side note, as you think about “Consumer Season”, we have great tips on Things to Do Other Than Holiday Shop and Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day Ideas. But what we’d like to talk about today is the concept of embracing the “idea of less” that we love in the summer all year long.
Why Is It Easier for Us to Embrace “Less” As a Concept in the Summer?
The first thing that we need to ask ourselves is “why do we frequently behave differently in the summer than we do the rest of the year?” This isn’t just about consumption, it’s also about mindset and stress. Certainly, a part of this is simply driven by the consumer machine. Marketers and advertisers still want to capture your business (and dollars) in the summer, but they know that you’re spending less time watching TV, on the internet and, truthfully, in stores. Their machine is ramped up for maximum efficiency starting in the fall. But we’re not just pawns to the consumer machine, right? Part of the reason that marketers and advertisers are courting you less aggressively in the summer is because, in the summer, you are less aggressive. Why is that?
If you are a student or work in education professionally, the answer is pretty simple. You’re often on vacation. But as much as we would love it if everybody in life were constantly educating themselves, that actually accounts for a fairly low percentage of adult Americans (and elsewhere in the world). So what’s really different in the summer? It’s your mindset.
What Causes Your Summer Mindset Change?
The next question then has to be, if it’s not simply the consumer machine and you’re not actually on vacation all summer, what’s causing your mindset to change? It’s a combination of conditioning and possibly even weather. For those people in a four-season climate (which, with climate change is rapidly becoming a two-season climate), the answer may simply be that the weather is nicer. You’re getting more Vitamin-D every day and you’re spending more time socializing and spending time outdoors. This is actually what the theory of most marketing companies is. They simply assume that, for many, summer means doing things that they can’t do when the weather is harsher, so they’ll spend less time participating in consumerism.
But, over the years, much like we are programmed by “buy, buy, buy,” we are also programmed to change how we think in the summer. We (mostly) all attend thirteen years of school in which summer is “vacation” when you don’t work. We’re conditioned to think of summer activities as leisurely and relaxing, not stressful and goal-driven. That mindset, actually, is entirely healthy if you can extend it through the other nine months of the year!
So What Can You Do To Embrace “Less” All Year Long?
The good news about embracing a low stress, low consumer summer is that it’s mostly in your mind – which means that you can choose to keep that lifestyle all year long. Yes, it’s harder once high-stress, high consumption season starts in the fall, but here are some tips to keep you loving less all year long:
– Reduce Your Media Time: Go on a “Media Diet.” The less time that you spend exposing yourself to the mass media machine and its ridiculous message that your value as a person lies in the value of your “stuff”, the less susceptible you are to it. You’ll also find that there are healthier and more satisfying ways to spend your time!
– Find a Stress Relief Activity: Activity trumps consumerism every time when it comes to finding satisfaction. If the fall months mean stress in your world, then focus on finding an activity that reduces that stress. It can be physical (like exercise), mental (like reading) or even social (consider joining a local meet-up group). The more time that you spend doing things that make you feel whole, the more infrequently you’ll feel as though you need to fill holes by shopping or stressing!
– Actively Change Your Mindset: The world is easier to navigate when you’re paying attention! Choose to be aware of the moments when you’re falling prey to the consumer machine and the stress it brings. Find ways to think back to the summer months when you embraced less. Be an active participant in changing the way that you think.
– Get Involved with Postconsumers! Sometimes, we all need reminders to embrace less. Postconsumers tries to give you those with online reminders via our social media, website and newsletter options. We want you to reduce media use, but we also want you to get the “backup tips” you need to celebrate loving less.
Summer. We all wish we could capture that feeling all year long. And while, for most, we can’t have the weather all year, we can capture the essence of the mindset change. In the end, that can make all the difference in permanently moving beyond our society’s addictive consumerism.
Photo Credit: adwriter via Flickr