A swipe of a card, a click of a mouse, no matter how you do it, there’s just something so satisfying about shopping! Anybody with me?! I know many of you are because several studies show that retail therapy is an effective way to boost your mood. Retail therapy releases mood enhancing chemicals to the mind and body.
According to Healthline, feelings of sadness, stress or anxiety are often rooted in feelings of powerlessness. The authors of a 2013 study suggest that retail therapy offers people a sense of control that counteracts these feelings. Essentially, choosing to make a purchase or not make a purchase helps people feel empowered. But wait, it gets even better! Researchers from the University of Michigan found that retail therapy was up to 40 times more effective at giving people a sense of control and that shoppers were three times less sad than those who only browsed at items. Not to mention shopping to cope with stress can help your blood pressure and help your heart.
Is this blog a dream or what?! Well, not so fast. If you’re going to use retail therapy as your therapy of choice keep in mind that there is such thing as too much of a good thing! Here’s why:
1. Shopping doesn’t help you directly deal with what’s bothering you. If you read my previous blog on the ghosts of emotions past, you would know that suppressed emotions will come for you one way or another. If you have the money to shop, then this could be a coping skill in the form of a distraction. But make sure you directly address the problem as well. AVOIDANCE COPING DOESN’T WORK IN THE LONG RUN.
2. Stay within your means. Retail therapy can get out of hand and cause money problems. Leading with your emotions to make money decisions is often a bad idea. Keep in mind that walking around a store, adding merchandise to a shopping cart and window shopping can also have a similar pleasure effect on the mind without the spending.
3. When retail therapy meets compulsive shopping: Unlike shopping to reduce stress, the pleasure that comes from compulsive shopping typically doesn’t last past the moment you purchase something. A compulsive shopper will often feel a sense of regret but feel powerless to stop spending money. There are many similarities between compulsive shopping and substance abuse disorders.
4. Interpersonal relationship impact. Frequent retail therapy can trigger people to lie about their purchases to save relationships where the significant other or family members do not support their shopping habit.
All in all, if you enjoy some occasional retail therapy, can afford it, and don’t solely rely on it to regulate your emotions—GO FOR IT! But if you find yourself indulging in a little too much shopping to relieve stress and are concerned, there are other healthy ways to cope. A Little Counseling can help you! Plus, retail stores don’t take insurance, but we do 😊