It’s safe to say that we’ve all done it: Using shopping as a coping mechanism whether we’ve had a bad day or have otherwise been in need of a pick me up.
Retail therapy is functionally using the accumulation of things as a way to fortify the spirit in times of need. It’s not always something that is intended to make logical sense, as this is an emotional salve rather than a logical solution.
For example, it’s not unheard of for someone stressing their financial situation to spend money to boost their spirits. It’s not unlike the concept of medication-assisted treatment programs designed to help reduce and make manageable an ongoing struggle with addiction — only the stakes are generally much lower and the results much more likely to be featured on Instagram.
So if we understand what retail therapy is and why we use it, we can control the variables that allow us to utilize it for our gain and betterment.
Buy practical things
If you’re going to be spending money, try to do so on things you needed to be spending money on in the first place.
It may not be as fun or as splashy as buying a new watch or the latest video game console, purchasing a couch or a nice non-stick pan both contribute significant to your quality of life.
This is also a nice way to curb a buyer’s remorse after spending a considerable amount of money as part of this process. If you need it, then you are addressing needs as well as wants.
Part of the fun of retail therapy is avoiding going through the daily motions. If it feels like part of the normal grind, that’s not particularly fun or interesting.
So if you can’t think of buying something practical, buy something weird. Maybe a fun conversation starter for your desk at work or a nerf gun that you enjoyed playing with as a child that you can now use to terrorize your cats when they threaten to knock things off the coffee table.
Know your limits
Extensive retail therapy doesn’t have to mean extensive spending. Sometimes, it can be the accumulation of affordable knick-knacks that bring comfort and enjoyment to your day.
For example, buying a 65-inch flat-screen television is quite nice, but you know what else is nice? A yo-yo with one of those cool clutches that lets it spin for a really long time at the bottom before you pull it back into your hand. Also cool are those rubber super balls that you can buy from gumball machines that you can’t resist slamming into the ground really hard to see how high it will go — and subsequently losing it forever when you do and it goes so far.
It’s important to understand that retail therapy is not a substitute for professional help. If you feel that your needs exceed what amounts to an easy boost of the spirits, please seek out the services you need.