Can shopping beat the blues? Shopping vs alternative  “therapies”

At one point, things start owning us

At one point, things start owning us

What do you do while distressed, frustrated, anxious or furious? I bet 2 out of 3 (women) will answer- go shopping! It holds true to me, too.

Quick statistics.

Having an apartment repaired was a well-grounded reason  for me to “inventory” my belongings (apart from all the side effects of any repairs- chronic headache, more frequent family conflicts and lack of the special tint of lemon-grass-yellow that I wanted to have on my walls :)), reflect upon my shopping volume and choices and make better decisions for future.

40% of the clothing I bought about 2 years ago is either “too boring now” or “just reminded me of unpleasant moods and situations in past” (NB: a self- quote). So- off they went to be donated. A noble decision, indeed. But it made me wonder: can I live with less and still feel more fulfilled. Or, to be more precise, can the things make us happier, or, if they can, what volume of them?

Yes and no. Yes- for a while, no- when their alarming portions become inversely proportional to your purse contents. The more you get- the more you want to get. It’s an axiom.

Sometimes, feeling like a short-term fix, I run from a store to store and hoard a couple of clothing items to show them off next day at the office (which is prevailingly female and thus very scrupulous and judgmental about your looks). What comes next is disenchantment and even more frustration at the thought that I could save the money for my next travel destination (the strongest impulse to resist the purchase 🙂 ).

But in other times, I just fill in the void by just activities that are not associated with squandering money. Below I share the list in the hope everyone can pick a “therapy” for him/her to swap it with excessive shopping.

  1. Bibliotherapy – or, to put it in simpler terms, reading fiction. Next time when distressed or listless or just itching for an extra pair of jeans, direct your steps to the nearest bookstore. Here is how I practiced this therapy and read away the apathy. Even if you don’t eventually buy a book, you’ll be much positively influenced by the process distracting yourself from your problems.
  1. Music- therapy”. Have you heard about Mozart effect? A whole scientific research is devoted to the impact of the great composer’s music on brain and emotions. In fact, I’m convinced it refers to other composers and genres of (good) music. My recent finding is that there is no gloomy mood – there is incorrectly chosen music. My personal favorite choices are: something energizing for morning (pop or rock), Bach and baroque music for studying and working and lounge/ambient for evening.
  2. Travel. To be more precise – saving for travel and planning. Yes, it’s more pricey than the posh red pumps enticing you from the shop window. Yet it’s a powerful stimulus to not buy the extra pair and rather invest money in your next travel site.
  3. Friends– therapy”. Can there be anything more heart-warming and fulfilling than a casual chit-chat, existential ruminations or even crying with your bestie over a glass of wine on a dreary (for you, the depressed) fall day? Maybe, traveling with her/him could be J Anyways, force yourself (I know it’s hard when you’re blue) to meet him/her or them and talk away the blues. At least, for an evening.
  1. Writing. Well, this one is very specific. It’s my “thing” that keeps me sane in tough times, while others get even more frustrated while faced with the blank sheet of paper. Anyways, it’s worth a try. Just jot down your thoughts without judgment and go with the flow- here is the best strategy. You can only toss it away and scroll up to the above mentioned “methods”.

Okay, now, let’s clarify something. None of the “therapies” is a miracle cure, or a full replacement of shopping. Of course, you and I need a healthy portion of shopping-spree in the search of decent outfits. Let’s just keep it less and sweet and balance with non-material activitiesJ that are fulfilling in the long run.

P.S. What do you normally do when stressed out? Maybe, something extraordinary? Don’t shy away! Share on the comment section below!

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