Feeling down? Go shopping, but don’t become obsessive


One of the recent phrases being used these days is “retail therapy.” Being a girl myself, I personally feel it can be very useful in lifting up your mood. Let’s delve through certain logical and more rational stances on the subject, though.

According to Wikipedia, retail therapy means “shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer’s mood or disposition.”

If you want to up your vocabulary, another word for retail therapy is ‘oniochalasia,’ which the dictionary describes it as “the purchasing of objects as a form of mental relaxation.”

It essentially refers to the shopping spree which people conduct when they are feeling down or low due to any kinds of issues in their life. Shopping is clearly an activities most girls enjoy, and the feeling of getting something new and glittery is a feeling every girl can think about and smile.

Whenever you are feeling a bit low, your brain gives you signals to revive the feeling of happiness and somehow the association builds itself up.

Certain researches and studies suggest that although much of the retail therapy engagement comes from women, men are also contributing to a significant amount in the overall statistics. However, items most favored by women – specifically on the context of retail therapy – include clothing and cosmetics; while on the men gravitate more towards food items as well as electronics and gadgets.

The items purchased as a result of retail therapy are commonly known as “comfort buys,” which further enforces the idea of associating human comfort with purchasable items. People engage in going on a shopping spree due to many different reasons – relaxation, escape, mental preparation of a future event – such as shopping for exercise clothes and accessories once you decide you are starting an exercise program – or even treating yourself after achieving a goal you targeted.

Other reasons can include changing your focus to think about other things in life instead of the event which is causing you trouble, or having control over a change or new phase in life. For example, when buying a new house, you get all the items you think will be required just to ensure that you have control over this big phase of your life and then it seems less scary.

When we talk about the actual existence of something like ‘retail therapy,’ psychologists do agree that shopping affects human moods and relieves stress and anxiety. According to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, individuals who shop often have longer life spans. Due to many of the reasons I mentioned, the activity of shopping makes you feel more comfortable, more focused and more confident in accepting the changes which can occur in your life.

However, keeping in view the above mentioned studies and their results, it should also be mentioned that too much of everything is not a positive sign and sometimes people become too obsessed with shopping that they do have to undergo actual psychological treatments. One should always understand where the fine line is between buying to feel better and excessive buying.

While psychologists do accept ‘retail therapy’ as a real thing to cope with from upsetting factors in life, they have also highlighted the existence of CBD (Compulsive Buying Disorder). It refers to the chronic purchasing on unneeded or unwanted things which ultimately disrupts daily functioning, spending, socializing and communicating habits of a person. In such cases, it is advisable to seek a proper mental health provider.

About the author: Maria Mir is a project manager by profession, who is inspired by creativity & aesthetics, to write poems & articles. She is an academic counselor for soft skills and a blogger on different topics.

You might also like