Why Does Retail Therapy Feels So Good And Why It Can Turn Just As Bad

Have you ever bought anything you didn't need just to make yourself happy? Do you overspend when you're stressed? It's incredible how buying for yourself may help us relieve stress, and anxiety, and lift our spirits. And, with mobile devices, it's easier than ever to buy that thing away and have it delivered to your door tomorrow. 

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What is retail therapy and how common is it?

Retail therapy is defined as: "The act of buying special things for yourself in order to feel better when you are unhappy." And it is quite common among people nowadays. According to research, 62% of buyers purchased something to cheer themselves up. An additional 28% shop to celebrate a special occasion.


The psychology behind retail therapy

You might think that it’s all wasteful but there is certain concrete psychology backing this casual therapy.

It makes you feel in command. Sadness is commonly related to a sense of powerlessness over events in one's life. According to experts, the process of making decisions when shopping might help you regain control over your life.

Interaction with others. Shopping forces you to leave the house and enter a crowded mall. Even though you are shopping alone you make social connections with people you meet on the shopping trip.

Makes you happy. Visiting shops or even browsing online may provide an emotional and psychological boost. A hormone called dopamine is released in the brain when you anticipate pleasure or reward. This makes you feel great. Dopamine encourages you to keep looking for methods to feel happy.

Distraction. Getting out of the house and going shopping might help you forget about whatever is making you upset. Store displays that are brilliantly illuminated and colorful might draw you away from your own world. This also applies to online shopping.


When does it go south hill?

Retail therapy does have benefits but it can do a lot worse than good if it gets out of hand.

Money issues. Shopping may relieve tension while also making your pocket lighter. This is especially true when using credit cards or other forms of online payment. Purchasing with cards and online apps, according to research, seems less real than paying with cash. This suggests you're more likely to overspend.

Addiction. Shopping can sometimes become an obsessive habit. People who suffer from compulsive purchasing disorder spend a lot of time and money shopping. Shopping addiction affects 5.8% of the population in the United States. This tendency usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. There's some indication that it runs in families where anxiety, mood, and substance addiction issues are also prevalent.


How to use retail therapy without being addictive?

You might attempt the following strategies to get the most out of retail therapy with the least amount of negative outcomes.

1. Monitor your spending

Tracking your everyday spending is the only way to learn about all of your emotional spending behaviors. You may simply track your spending by keeping all of your receipts for later auditing or by using applications or software to track your habits. You will notice that there are certain days when you tend to spend more and then you can avoid it.

2. Stick to a budget

Many people are finding budgeting to be a reliable method of reducing overspending. Use the envelope approach to set spending limits in each category (e.g. food, insurance, gas, entertainment). Alternatively, you can keep to an overall monthly budget that forces you to save (and invest) a set amount each month — while also spending on necessities and paying off debt.

3. Remove shopping apps from phone

Shopping applications act as a trigger for shopping addiction. These applications have simplified shopping. There is very little time to consider your purchases. As a result, it is preferable to mute or even remove some of the shopping applications.

4. Try a different coping mechanism

When you're feeling low, avoid the retail therapy and instead save money with these better self-care solutions. Instead of going to the mall, pick up the phone and contact a friend to discuss your concerns. You can go offline or do household chores to distract yourself. Declutter your closet and organize it.

5. Window shopping

Window shopping or placing items on a wish list rather than a cart has a similar effect in enhancing mood. That is, you do not have to spend money to reap the benefits of retail therapy. Create a window shopping strategy. It might be as simple as adding products to your online wish list rather than adding them to your basket. Alternatively, try on clothes and determine which ones you prefer, but eventually, return everything. Leave your wallet in the car or carry only a modest quantity of cash that you've planned for to help prevent yourself from buying things.