Have you ever felt low and decided to go on a shopping spree to boost your mood? Did you ever buy yourself a luxurious gift after getting a promotion or after a bad break-up? If your answer was yes to any of the above, then you have experienced a little something called “shopping therapy”, aka retail therapy for stress relief and pleasure. Think of it as a form of sports activity!
Nine times out of ten, when someone hears the words retail therapy, their mind draws a picture of a helpless shopaholic, who can’t stop buying useless items and owns a number of overcharged credit cards.
Once, when I was in university, I told a friend I had spent my day doing shopping therapy, and that it made me feel so much better. They literally started laughing! 😐 However, I was being serious!
Shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.Tammy Faye Messner
That was the first time I started wondering why shopping has such a bad reputation. Why it is so hard for people to believe that it can actually have a positive impact on us?
Saturday the 10th of October was the International Mental Health Day; which only reminded me of the struggles of dealing with mental health issues. Believe it or not, one way to deal with them is, indeed, retail therapy!👛
Without a doubt, shopping can have negative consequences in certain circumstances, however, there are a lot of untold benefits from it. I did a bit of research and I was pleased to find that the benefits outweigh the possible “side effects”.
What is retail therapy?
Shopping therapy is defined as the feeling of euphoria you get from purchasing goods. It’s very real, and it is a form of stress relief. The sense of control and the idea that you are capable of buying something you desire for yourself, is what makes you feel better.
Even buying your groceries at the super market can help boost your mood. Similarly, online shopping provides the same rush from browsing through goods and buying what you like.
The therapeutic benefits of healthy shopping habits
Researchers noted that many people who are sad or scared feel like they have no control over their environments. For them, shopping is a logical coping mechanism. They are able to control where they go and what they purchase.
Perhaps, shopping is not as an effective form of therapy as the traditional ones, but there are still benefits from it that include:
- visualisation of using the desired product, that in turn reduces anxiety
- inspiration and creativity
- physical health benefits, such as walking to the shops
- mental health benefits, such as going out for fresh air, change of scenery, clearing your mind
- feeling of gaining control and production of endorphins from buying something you like
- feeling of accomplishment that you’re able to afford luxury
- social benefits from human interaction, for example going shopping with a friend and chatting with the staff customer assistants
- reduction of residual sadness
Compulsive shopping vs. retail therapy
Compulsive shopping is when you can’t help but shop, even if it affects your every day needs. For example, you go out for groceries, and on the way a gorgeous bag catches your eye. You know that you need to save your money for the essential groceries, however, you choose to buy the bag anyway.
Doing this over and over is defined as compulsive shopping. You are not happy, for whatever reason, and you constantly use shopping as a coping mechanism. Compulsive shopping includes buying items you don’t really need, and not thinking rationally at the time of purchase. You are addicted to the feeling of euphoria that comes from acquiring brand new possessions, such as fancy clothes, shoes or even a new shiny car.
When to seek professional help
When you use shopping as your only coping mechanism, it is time to consider seeking professional help. It’s not healthy to regularly feel out of control, guilty after every buy or going in debt because of your spending habits.
The most common warning signs that shopping is more of a problem than a solution include: avoiding credit card or bank statements; lying or hiding purchases; missing work, school, or other obligations to go shopping; and feeling shame, guilt, or irritability associated with shopping.
The bottom line
The bottom line is, shopping can help your mental health and give you a temporary feeling of joy. However, you have to be cautious with how frequently you resort to retail therapy, in order to avoid having the opposite effects. When you feel like you need some shopping therapy, limit yourself to buying things you already planned to purchase.
Managing stress and anxiety can come in many different forms; find the one that gives you the most pleasure -maybe it’s shopping! 🤗
What is your view on this subject? Do you believe in retail therapy? Have you ever struggled with your shopping habits? Let me know in the comments!💋
sources: Retail Therapy: Bad Habit or Mood Booster?, Why “Retail Therapy” Works, The benefits of retail therapy: Making purchase decisions reduces residual sadness, Retail Therapy: Does It Help?, The Health Benefits Of Retail Therapy, Try Retail Therapy to Reduce Stress and Lower Blood Pressure,
*Featured Image by lulularoux