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Shopping ‘Therapy’ Only Gets You So Far

pexels-photo-285172For many people, when things get tough and they feel down, if they can afford it, they go shopping. I know I do. And because I have a mood disorder (bipolar illness), I’m especially prone to feeling bad quite often. I don’t spend an exorbitant amount of money at a time. Maybe $30.00 or $40.00. But I do spend. The last time I shopped when I was depressed I bought a nightshirt that said “Don’t Wake Me I’m Dreaming,” a coffee cup that said “Call Your Mother,” some socks and an artificial purple orchid.  All to the tune of about $45.00.  TJ Maxx to the rescue.

But I’m learning that shopping “therapy” only gets you so far.

For one thing, if you’re constantly buying things, you’re going to run out of space. You only have so many counters, dressers, closets, coffee tables — places to put things. At this point in my life, I’ve acquired quite a lot of material goods and unless I get rid of something when I purchase something, I really don’t have anywhere to store or display anything new. For instance, my coffee cup cupboard is completely stocked. When I purchased the “Call Your Mother” cup, I had to donate two old cups to the Salvation Army, so I had room for the recent acquisition. Out with the old and in with the new. But isn’t that a bit wasteful?

Of course it is.

I waste money and time at stores all in the name of trying to feel better, to get my head “right.”

What I’m discovering is that prayer/meditation, exercise, service and downright creativity work much better than shopping. And these things are relatively free!

For example, yesterday, I was feeling down in the dumps, and I prayed and meditated just for a few minutes. I prayed the “Our Father.” I asked for direction and for forgiveness for my shortcomings. After about 20 minutes of quiet time, I felt much better. I attributed my change in mood to my prayer/meditation session.

In point of fact, I felt better after praying and meditating than I did after my most recent shopping spree. And I didn’t have to stand and hold my new items in my house because I had no place to put them.

Another example. I joined a gym this January to lose weight. I’m not losing much weight, but I am getting a lot of relaxation and relief from depression from swimming three times a week.

So, food for thought. When you get the urge to shop to relieve a bad mood or a bad situation, stop for a moment and think. Consider an alternative. Instead of running off to Macy’s, take a walk around the block and think good thoughts.

Another thing other than shopping that can relieve a bad mood is service. People are much more rewarding than things. Today, feeling a bit out of sorts, I’m going to take a friend who is “shut-in” out to lunch.

This action is going to do two things. It’s going to make me feel better, and it’s going to make my friend feel better. A win/win situation.

Service doesn’t have to be a full-blown volunteering project. It can be simply calling an elderly neighbor to see how he’s doing. Reaching out instead of spending cash can really clear your head. It can make you right again.

Finally, another thing you can do instead of shop is get creative. Dance, sing, act, play an instrument, make crafts, paint, write. Writing is a surefire activity that will release me from my malaise. I can honestly say, it’s the best “medicine” around.

So shopping therapy only gets you so far.

Stash that cash in the bank for a rainy day. Or donate it to a good cause. Avoid buying material goods that will only clutter your home. And your life.

In conclusion, there is a time and a place for shopping, but don’t overdo it, and don’t use it as a crutch to get through your time on this earth.

There are many more effective techniques and activities that will get you where you want to be — happy and healthy and feeling fine.

Go out there and find them.

Shopping ‘Therapy’ Only Gets You So Far

Laura Yeager

Laura Yeager has been writing for over 35 years. Some of her favorite topics include mental health, writing, religion, parenthood, dogs, and her day-to-day life. She is a mental health writer for Her articles about writing have appeared in The Writer Magazine, The Toastmaster Magazine, and Her spiritual writing has been featured in several venues including Aleteia USA, Busted Halo, The Liguorian Magazine, Canticle Magazine and Guideposts Magazine. A graduate of The Writers' Workshop at The University of Iowa, Laura teaches writing at Kent State University and online Creative Writing at Gotham Writers' Workshop in New York.

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APA Reference
Yeager, L. (2018). Shopping ‘Therapy’ Only Gets You So Far. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 6 May 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.