Shopaholics Anonymous

Is retail therapy effective in healing our negative moods and emotional downturns? Any of us experience a day when we feel low and want to compensate for that negative feeling, so we look for a quick boost- either indulging in a delicious snack, procrastinating from work, going shopping or doing something entirely destructive like arguing with people around us. Some of us, on the other hand have built up a productive system to deal with negativity, like going for a run, taking a bath, listening to music or practicing a hobby. Awareness on what decision we take when we feel low is key to overcoming bad moments.

Some individuals disdain shopping as a form of therapy as you end up wasting time, money and feeling guilty after indulging in a huge shopping spree. I do not entirely agree with this because going out for shopping is so much more than simply buying the product- it is a form of temporary but useful distraction that you can usually complement with socializing with friends. Also most of the time when you are out ‘shopping’ you can do window shopping, just browsing products, trying and tasting them which provides you the same level of satisfaction in my opinion– you don’t need to own something to make you happy.

Plus most of us normal people are also on a budget so we do pay attention to how much we spend, and choose small daily ‘treats’ rather than huge purchases. Shopping can be very tiring mentally as well, so it is highly unlikely that you will have the willpower to make a decision when you are in a bad mood- which on the one hand may mean that you make an impulse buy especially when persuaded by a salesperson, or you simply don’t buy anything. To stay away from sly sales people just tell them that you will think about whether to buy the product first- no matter how much you are ‘in love with it’, that way you will know for sure if you want it later.

Yesterday I was in Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, two of my most favorite department stores in London and I felt much better after browsing the shoe section and the food sections respectively. For me retail therapy is just spending my time walking around shops, listening to the music inside the shop, appreciating the visual experience, having a coffee when I feel tired and just browsing through things. Sometimes I buy but many times I don’t because shopping is such a hassle to me- decisions about what to buy need to be made and I simply do not enjoy making the mental effort. My Achilles foot or weak point are books- when I visit a book shop I can spend an entire day looking for, reading and buying books because to me information is worth spending money for. What about my bad mood? All is gone and forgotten when a good read provides me a ticket to escape reality. Did I solve my problems? After reading a book I’d like to think that I am smarter and hence more capable to deal with life’s daily struggles.


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