Have you ever heard of the term “Shopping Therapy”? It is the term, mostly used for the feminine side of the human race that going shopping has psychosomatic properties to it.
It is therapeutic. In fact, it is not even necessary to actually purchase anything, just the fact that you went out shopping was sufficient to relieve your stress, socialize with friends and simply have a good time. I’m pretty sure a lot of you can relate to this experience.
Is shopping therapy only for women?
I have observed that in many cases men and women are the same here. If I may be so bold as to generalize here, women tend to hang out with other women and go shopping at the mall.
Even if they do not buy something, they at least looked at, held and priced many items, mostly clothing and jewelry and shoes. If they bought something, they had no problem bringing it home and then a few days later going back to the store to return it.
You see, it actually had less to do with buying something and more to do with the experience. It was the stress relief of shopping.
We might call this catch and release shopping.
Of course, men do this on fishing trips with other men. It is a form of shopping. Simply being able to catch a fish and release it back. It’s all therapeutic.
It is effective
According to a study by the University of Michigan, retail or shopping therapy was 40 times more effective at relieving stress when people actually bought something. Why, because it gives people a sense of control over their lives. I suspect fishing is the same thing.
Shopping is so popular because of its positive emotional effects on a person. It can relieve stresses and anxieties. For a lot of people, this may be the perfect antidepressant.
It is a group therapy
This form of therapy is just like a team sport. It is not really effective if you go shopping or fishing by yourself. There are some benefits, but to maximize and make the most of it, you need to do it with your friends. This is because humans are social creatures. People need people. We do not do well in isolation.
It is the camaraderie and the experience of going shopping (or fishing) that has the highest mental stress-relieving effect.
You also have to be with people that are engaged in the experience with you. Imagine going shopping with anyone who does not want to be there with you. Same as fishing. It is not fun. Now imagine shopping or fishing with someone who is engaged and wants to do shopping or fishing with you. Huge difference!
No need to make an appointment with a counselor
With shopping therapy, you do not need a lot of pre-planning involved. Just hop in the car with some friends who are just as excited about shopping as you are and you have a self-made group therapy session. You will notice a burst of positive energy all in the whim of the moment!
So when you start to dissect the reasons that shopping therapy works, you will see that maybe the underlying reason has more to do with the sense of control, social interaction and maybe even pampering yourself. Could you do that with other activities? Yes, of course!
Shopping therapy is not all positive
However, there is a downside to this phenomenon called retail or shopping therapy. The downside occurs within the month when the credit card bill comes in.
You now have to pay for your therapy.
For many people, this is how they get into trouble with consumer credit. They do not know how to stop the cycle of irresponsible credit card use. This type of therapy may be effective but can be expensive and can actually put you to a deeper financial stress. Be careful!
The answer is to limit your spending on this therapy to only that which you can pay off each month, and simply use the shopping experience as a way to socialize with your closest friends. Doing everything in moderation is always the key.
So think of responsible retail therapy not as an expense, but maybe as an investment into your mental health and well-being even though study finds that it is short-lived.