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Mental Mondays: Does Retail Therapy Work Or Is It Temporal?

Mental Mondays: Does Retail Therapy Work Or Is It Temporal?

does-retail-therapy-work

H

ave you ever had a rough day and decided to hit the mall or do some online shopping to cheer yourself up? Or maybe you’ve heard of friends or family members talking about how they use shopping as a way to cope with stress or other negative emotions. But have you ever stopped to think if this so-called “retail therapy” is actually effective in improving mood or if it’s just a temporary fix? Are you curious about the science behind it and its potential consequences?

It’s only right to dive into the concept of retail therapy and explore the research that has been conducted on its effectiveness. I’ll also provide some personal insights on the matter. Because, like many of you, I also wanted to know if retail therapy is helpful or another shopping myth coined by marketers.

What is retail therapy?

Photo: @itsashforde/Instagram

Retail Therapy is the practice of using shopping as a way to improve one’s mood. It is also a way some people cope with stress or other negative emotions. It’s a term that has been around for a while and is often used casually in conversations and the media. But what is it really about? Does it work? And if so, how?

How does retail therapy work?

Photo: Kindel Media/Pexels

First, it’s important to understand that retail therapy is not a clinically recognized treatment. However, research on the topic has been conducted to understand its effects. Studies have found mixed results, with some suggesting that retail therapy can have a temporary mood-boosting effect, while others have found that it can lead to negative consequences.

One study, for example, found that participants who went shopping after experiencing a negative event reported feeling more positive and less stressed afterward. (Kasser and Sheldon, 2002). This is likely because shopping can be a way to distract oneself from problems and can provide a sense of control and mastery over one’s environment.

Additionally, making a purchase can release dopamine, a chemical in the brain associated with pleasure and reward, which can further contribute to a temporary mood boost.

On the other hand, another study found that participants who engaged in depression shopping reported feeling guilty and dissatisfied with their purchases (Rosen et al. 1998). This may be because shopping can lead to overspending, which can create financial problems and lead to feelings of guilt and regret. Furthermore, shopping can also lead to dissatisfaction with one’s possessions, which can create a sense of emptiness and lack of fulfillment.

Considering these findings, here are 9 effects of retail therapy… 

#1. Distraction

mental-mondays-does-retail-therapy-heal-or-is-it-temporary
Photo: Rodnae Productions/Pexels

Shopping can provide a temporary escape from problems and negative emotions, allowing individuals to focus on something else for a short period of time. This can provide a sense of relief, but it’s important to address the underlying issues in the long term.

#2. Sense of control

Photo: Cup of Couple/Pexels

The act of shopping can provide a sense of control and mastery over one’s environment, as individuals have the ability to make choices and decisions. This sense of control can be empowering and can improve one’s mood.

#3. Dopamine release

mental-mondays-does-retail-therapy-heal-or-is-it-temporary
Photo: Gustavo Fring/Pexels

Making a purchase can release dopamine, a chemical in the brain associated with pleasure and reward. This release can provide a temporary mood boost but can also lead to addiction and overspending in the long term.

#4. Overspending

Photo: Antoni Shkraba/Pexels

Retail therapy can easily lead to overspending, which can create financial problems and lead to feelings of guilt and regret. It’s important to have a budget and stick to it to avoid these negative consequences.

#5. Dissatisfaction

mental-mondays-does-retail-therapy-heal-or-is-it-temporary
Photo: Anna Shvets/Pexels

Excessive shopping can lead to dissatisfaction with one’s possessions, as the initial pleasure of making a purchase can be short-lived. This can create a sense of emptiness and a lack of fulfillment in the long term.

#6. Bonding with loved ones

Photo: Kampus Production/Pexels

Shopping with friends or family can be a fun and social activity that can lift one’s spirits and reduce stress. However, it’s important to consider the financial consequences and whether it’s within the budget.

#7. Self-worth

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

People may try to fill an inner emptiness with possessions, but it’s a short-term solution and not a healthy one. Shopping should not be used as a substitute for addressing deeper issues related to self-worth.

#8. Confusion

Photo: Laura James/Pexels

Retail therapy can lead to buying things that are not needed or wanted, resulting in confusion and guilt. It’s important to think critically about what is truly needed and wanted before making a purchase.

#9. Addiction

mental-mondays-does-retail-therapy-heal-or-is-it-temporary
Photo: Gustavo Fring/Pexels

Shopping can turn into an addiction, with individuals relying on it as a way to cope with negative emotions. This is not a sustainable way to manage mood and stress, and it’s important to address the underlying issues and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

It’s important to note that retail therapy should be used in moderation and as a complement to other forms of self-care. A healthy balance of mental and physical self-care, good financial practices, and professional help (such as counseling or therapy) when needed are more effective and sustainable ways to manage mood and stress.

To sum up, retail therapy can have a temporary mood-boosting effect, but it’s not a clinically recognized treatment. Furthermore, it can lead to negative consequences such as overspending and dissatisfaction. Therefore, it’s crucial to approach it in moderation. Also, remember that advertising and media can influence individuals to believe that shopping can fix their problems, leading them to engage in retail therapy excessively. It’s important to be aware of these messages and think critically about their impact.

Featured image: @angelshehab/Instagram 


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