Why Retail Therapy Shouldn't Be the Answer
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Why Retail Therapy Shouldn’t Be the Answer

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As I stood staring at the expensive handbag that I didn’t need, but purchased anyway, I tried to remember how I got to this point. It had been a crazy week. School, two jobs, little sleep and attempting to move to a new city had taken an emotional toll, and I only know of one full-proof way to blow off some steam: shopping.

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As I stood staring at the expensive handbag that I didn’t need, but purchased anyway, I tried to remember how I got to this point. It had been a crazy week. School, two jobs, little sleep and attempting to move to a new city had taken an emotional toll, and I only know of one full-proof way to blow off some steam: shopping.
Why is it that when emotions take over, we turn to spending our hard-earned cash, — or worse, credit we have to pay back — on items we may not need or even necessarily want?
In a study conducted by TNS Global, more than half of Americans (64 percent women and 40 percent men) admit to turning to “retail therapy” as a way to cope with stress and elevate mood.
There have even been numerous studies that prove that shopping can be good for you. According to TIME, benefits of shopping include easing transitions from a bad relationship, creating a new wardrobe for a better job, tapping into the part of your brain associated with creativity and aesthetics, relaxation and even a social lubricant.
However, for those of us on a budget or dealing with debt, retail therapy can cause more stress with each swipe of the card.
So what are we to do when those sale signs are flashing bright in our eyes and our wallets feel heavy with money that isn’t there? Here are some wallet-friendly ways to deal with stress without racking up those dollar signs:
Exercise
Engaging in some sort of physical activity is not only proven to reduce stress, but it’s proven to improve alertness and concentration, enhance cognitive functions and reduce fatigue. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise has been shown to “decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep and improve self-esteem.”
Cooking
Look — I’m no chef, and yes, I burned dinner last night. But I always find a sense of satisfaction after creating a meal and sharing it with a friend or loved one. Cooking will not only help to reduce stress, but can also help heal a broken heart, soothe nerves and help with insomnia and anxiety.
Crafting
For those Do-It-Yourselfers out there, with the help of Pinterest thousands of craft ideas from clothes to home décor are available at the click of a button. Crafting is a type of therapeutic healing often used for children and seniors, but it’s beneficial for everyone. Crafting can boost self-esteem, allows for a creative outlet, can lower your heart rate, blood pressure and even improve sleep.
Write It Out
Keeping a private journal can be a great place to vent about the car that cut you off earlier or even to gush about the cutie in the cubicle next to you. Getting words down on paper is one of the easiest ways to get them out of your head, reduce stress and help deal with trauma or unexpected life events. Make a list of your worries and stressors and the visual representation can help you make a better plan of attack to cross them off your list.
The next time that e-mail comes in with the top deals and steals of the day, think about why you want to turn to fruitful spending. If money is tight, remember that there are other effective ways to improve mood and reduce stress that won’t get you, or your wallet, into trouble.

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