5 Min Read
Have you ever wanted to spend money to make yourself feel better?
You’re not the only person craving to make a purchase when you feel down. In fact, retail therapy is a real thing that many people turn to when they need to cheer themselves up.
While going on a shopping spree every once in a while doesn’t hurt anyone, becoming addicted to shopping can have a long-term impact on your financial health.
Let’s move on to discover what retail therapy is, how to identify it, and how to get help.
And just as a short disclaimer – we’re obviously not here to give medical advice. We’re not doctors. We’re just hoping to address a topic that isn’t really discussed. And we hope you research this topic even deeper!
What Is Retail Therapy?
Retail therapy, also known as shopping therapy, is shopping with the main purpose of improving your mood or disposition.
People usually turn to retail therapy when they’re feeling depressed or stressed. (However, we should acknowledge that shopping doesn’t really qualify as true therapy from a medical perspective.)
While shopping can provide short-term comfort and relief, it also comes with a cost. Not only can spending money stress you out even more in the days following, but you may, over time, develop a compulsive buying disorder.
58% of compulsive shoppers have large debts and 45% feel guilty about shopping. That’s a big financial and emotional price to pay just to cope.
What Are the Signs that You're Addicted to Shopping?
Shopping addiction is a real thing. And similar to other addictions, it has signs and symptoms that can help you spot such an addiction. So let's review the signs that you or someone you know might be addicted to shopping.
Psychological and Emotional Symptoms That You’re Addicted to Shopping
Like any other type of addict, shopping addicts usually try to hide their addiction. In most cases, shopping addicts hide their purchases, shopping bags, and bills or receipts from others, especially from their loved ones and family members. On the other hand, a shopping addict may admit that they went shopping, but they may hide how much they actually spent.
Here’s a list of other symptoms you may notice from a shopping addict:
- Shopping to cope with stress and mental health, anger, or depression
- Going shopping to feel less guilty about their previous shopping spree
- Spending more than they can afford
- Obsessing over making regular purchases (daily or weekly)
- Maxing out their credit cards or opening new ones without paying off previous balances first
- Harming relationships with loved ones because they spend too much
- Losing control of their shopping behavior
What Are Treatments for Shopping Addiction?
Shopping addiction can be quite difficult to manage compared to other addictions because making purchases is a normal part of everyday life. Everyone needs to go grocery shopping and to buy personal products. So simply avoiding shopping isn’t really an option to treat a shopping addiction.
But how do you treat a shopping addiction after all? Here are a few options to consider, depending on the severity of the shopping addiction:
- A shopping addict may need to cut access to cash flow by having someone else take charge of their finances.
- Sometimes, a shopping addict may need to check in to an inpatient addiction program.
- Shopping addiction can also be treated with the help of behavioral therapy and individual counseling. These sessions should help a shopping addict develop impulse control and learn to identify their triggers to successfully avoid retail therapy.
The light cases of retail addiction can also be treated by acknowledging your purchases and practicing telling yourself ‘no’ even if you have the money.
3 Ways to Stop Emotional Spending
Here are some ways to try curbing emotional spending:
- Window-shop. In fact, even window shopping makes your brain release a surge of dopamine and helps you satisfy your craving while keeping your money in your pocket.
- Practice telling yourself ‘no.’ Emotional shopping is just that – emotional. That's why it's important to practice telling yourself ‘no’ and keeping yourself away from buying something on a whim, even if you have money.
- Sleep on it. When you're shopping with your emotions, chances are, you're buying something that you don't really need. So instead of making an instant purchase, go home and ask yourself the reason you want this item, whether you'll really use it, and whether it fits your budget. If your answer is yes to all these questions and you're still excited about the purchase the next day, you can go back to the store or website to buy it.
- Slow down your buying process. It’s easier than ever to shop. And slowing down the process of adding to cart could help reset those habits. A wishlist app like Monorail could help you skip the cart and still keep track of the things you really want. That way you can prioritize your purchases. And even give yourself a shopping allowance.
Shopping Addiction Resources
Here are also some of the groups offering positive support in the recovery process:
Progress, Not Perfection
Once again, we’re not doctors. But the takeaway here is to know there are resources and tools at your disposal to help curb retail therapy. All you can do is take a step in a new direction or get professional help.
If you think a wishlist app like Monorail could be a tool you’d benefit from, it’s free to use. But at the very least, we wish you success in your journey!
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