Have you ever found yourself buying something you don't need, to make yourself happy? Do you spend more when you're stressed? "Retail therapy" is one method of stress relief that many people use consciously or unconsciously—it's the act of buying yourself a little something to boost your mood when you're feeling low, and it may be more common than you think.
How Shopping Affects Us When We're Stressed
When we're under stress, we react to shopping differently. Just as we may naturally crave sweets to lift our moods, and as we respond positively to other pleasures in life, people tend to feel stronger impulses to buy themselves treats for a mood boost when stressed.
The survey of shoppers found that 82% had only positive feelings about these purchases and that the positive mood boost that followed these purchases was long-lasting, demonstrating that purchases made as a "pick-me-up" were largely immune to "buyer's remorse" feelings. However, when this type of buying becomes more compulsive, especially when money is tight, it can feel quite different.
Giving yourself a treat from time to time is fine (and is even a recommended strategy for achieving goals), but letting your spending get out of control is obviously counter-productive. Healthier Alternatives to Retail Therapy If you find yourself indulging in a little retail therapy now and then, it may not be the most effective way to relieve stress, but it can be a nice mood booster if it doesn't become a compulsion.
Because compulsive shopping can be an effort to "fill a void," indulging in activities that fill you emotionally can reduce your cravings for material items. Spend Less: Sometimes you're just in the mood for a treat, and talking yourself out of it takes more effort than it's worth. If done in moderation and within your means, small treats can be mood-lifters that don't bring lasting debt. Going to discount stores and purchasing one item on an extreme sale can sometimes be just the thing.
Positive psychologists recommend the use of 'pleasures' in life, and a small 'retail therapy' investment can indulge the part of you that yearns for something new, without going too far and creating an expensive habit that you can't afford.
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