What Is Shopping Therapy, And Can It Help Me?

Updated October 5, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

“Shopping therapy” is more commonly referred to as “retail therapy.” Some people go out shopping when they have had a bad day, and will use the positive feelings that they get from buying new things to level out their mood. Many people enjoy going shopping or even "window shopping,” so long as they are shopping for things that they are interested in. Some people enjoy taking home new items, while others may just enjoy the feeling of spending their hard-earned money. While spending money as an attempt to relieve stress or feel better can momentarily be therapeutic, neither shopping therapy or retail therapy are actual forms of therapy. In fact, it can cause more harm than good for many people.

Many people love going out to shops and buying new items to add to their collections. Some people love buying new shoes, and others wind up focusing on other areas of fashion. Some people get a lot of enjoyment out of buying records, and others may collect vintage video games. You can see how shopping is something that can be a lot of fun for people, especially in relation to their personal interests.

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Do You Shop To Brighten Your Mood And Improve Your Attitude?

The problem is not with the shopping itself or the items you purchase, but with the idea that shopping is a good way to improve your mental health. This is a dangerous idea, and it could wind up backfiring and potentially lead to compulsive buying disorder or money problems if you are not careful. If you have something bad happen in your life or are feeling sad, then trying to brighten up your mood by buying things is not a healthy way to deal with it. If you’re experiencing a traumatic event, or dealing with loss, facing and accepting your emotions is important to healing. No amount of shopping therapy is truly going to make you feel better or improve your mood in the long term.

Although you can definitely tread yourself once in a while when you’re feeling down, “retail therapy” is not something that is recommended by mental health professionals as an adequate way to cope or feel good. It can lead you to have compulsive spending habits, and it could eventually lead to financial stress. To avoid long term issues with shopping, try to get a handle on your grief, anxiety, depression, sense of loneliness, or challenges in healthy ways. If you are having trouble feeling like you can cope productively, then seeking out therapy is highly recommended.

Therapy Is Important

Therapy can be extremely beneficial when you are trying to deal with negative emotions and thought patterns. Many people do not process negative emotions or bad situations very well without the right kind of support and care. It can lead to severe anxiety and depression symptoms if left unchecked. Though shopping may make you feel good temporarily, shopping sprees are not going to do a good job of addressing the root causes of your mental health needs. There are other ways to help you feel better.

There is not such a thing as a “shopping therapist.” However, some therapists can help those with poor spending habits by identifying and addressing any underlying issues that they may have that trigger their need to buy things. A therapist treating someone with a tendency to spend money compulsively can help figure out why they are making these choices, and help them to practice better control and spending habits moving forward.

Some people feel intimidated by therapy, or that it will take too long to get to where they would like to. It’s important to remember that therapy is a gradual process that can give you tools that you can use long term. By having more productive ways to handle your challenging emotions, you can combat your urges to hit the mall or shop. It may take time and effort on your part, but it will be worth it.

Therapists can also provide you with important advice that will allow you to start making progress in life again. Sometimes tumultuous life events will cause you to fall into negative patterns that are hard to break out of. For example, depression may lead you to lose interest in things that you once loved. It can even complicate your relationships, making it tougher to see a happy future in the distance. Compassionate therapists work with their clients to begin the healing process, and provide a non-judgmental space to grow and learn.

How Does Therapy Help?

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Therapy helps by giving you a chance to work through your issues. There may be direct causes for your anxiety and depression symptoms that you can address and acknowledge. Sometimes people need guidance in understanding how their depression manifests and affects their life. By spending time talking with a licensed therapist, you can come to understand yourself on a deeper level.

Mental health professionals know how to create a space where you feel like you can be open about your emotions and start taking steps forward. They can help you determine what you are going through, and what will help you cope with daily life in a productive manner. Even if you are in a vulnerable point in your life, therapists are able to help you find your way back to a happy place. Having allies in the fight against depression and anxiety is important. Your therapist will be on your side through even the worst days, and can give you an expert opinion on the best ways for you to move forward with your life.

Therapy is readily available too. If you feel like you would benefit from seeking out therapy, then reach out to a therapist today. Speaking about your thoughts and feelings can make a big difference in your life. Continuing to seek happiness through shopping is not going to be satisfying long-term, and can cause additional stress. Seek the true help that you need, and talk to a dedicated therapist today.

Alleviating Depression And Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are often tackled in a multitude of ways that go beyond just therapy. It’s important that you follow the recommendations that your therapist makes for you as well as you can, while also being patient with the time that you need to take to implement changes in your life. This may include including more positive activities into your day-to-day life – such as journaling, staying connected with or spend time with friends and family, getting exercise, or doing a hobby that you enjoy. Some mental health professionals may also recommend that you start taking a certain medication that is designed to help you stabilize your mood.

Though it may be difficult to include these activities in your life, especially when you’re feeling particularly affected by your mental health disorder, every step you take is a step in the right direction. By being invested in your own mental wellbeing, you can make changes gradually that can help you thrive.

Online Therapy Options Are Available

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Do You Shop To Brighten Your Mood And Improve Your Attitude?

These days, there are online therapy options like BetterHelp that you can engage with from the comfort of your home. Some people do not have the time to see a therapist in person, or to commute back and forth from their therapist’s office. This means that traditional types of therapy may not be as practical for everyone to take advantage of. Online therapy is completely different as you are able to set up your schedule for therapy sessions in a flexible way that meets your needs.

When you have a flexible therapy schedule to work with, it will be that much easier to work through your challenges. It is possible to start overcoming what has been holding you back in life. Even though mental health struggles are nothing to be embarrassed about, it is still true that many people like to keep the matters private. It is easier to go to therapy discreetly when you can do it from the comfort of your own home. The only people who will be aware of your therapy sessions are you and your online therapists.

It is also very cost-effective to seek out online therapy. Whether you need help due to being depressed, or if you want to get therapy for your compulsive spending habits, online therapists will have your back. You can get the help that you need at an accessible price. In fact, it’s possible your health insurer will help cover the costs!

Signing up for the therapy is very fast, and there are several therapy options available. You can speak with a therapist over the phone, or you can discuss matters with them through video therapy. There are even text message and email therapy options for people who would prefer that. This is a balanced option that puts the power of choice in your hands. Taking charge of your mental health may feel daunting at first, but it can give you the opportunity to make changes that will affect your life for the better.

Though shopping may feel exciting or satisfying temporarily, it’s important to look for ways to heal long term. If you think you struggle with your shopping and spending habits, therapy may be right for you. It’s never too late to reach out for help, and to start taking steps to understand your own mental health needs.

Below Are Some Commonly Asked Questions Around This Topic:

Can Shopping Be A Form Of Therapy?

For some individuals, shopping may provide significant benefits on mental and emotional health. Studies have discovered that shopping can help to improve mood in times of sadness or stress. One study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that making purchase decisions allowed shoppers to feel more in control of their lives, reducing residual sadness.

However, it’s important to note that using shopping as a primary coping mechanism can lead to spending more money than intended – and even addiction. To avoid these consequences, an individual could try window shopping or browsing online without making any purchases. The study found that even selecting items and writing them on a wish list without purchasing them can provide the same benefits of retail therapy- without leading to money problems.

Is Shopping An Unhealthy Coping Mechanism?

Studies consider retail therapy a strategic effort to improve mood that can have positive impacts on mental health. However, for some people, retail therapy can lead to shopping compulsion, and an uncontrollable urge to shop that leads to harmful consequences.

Warning signs of Compulsive Buying Disorder include spending excessive amounts of time shopping (including in online shopping stores), routinely buying things that one doesn’t need or can’t afford, experiencing financial difficulties due to excessive shopping, and feeling anxious when one is unable to shop. It is thought that women, particularly those in their late teens may be more susceptible to Compulsive Buying Disorder. If you believe you may be exhibiting signs of shopping addiction, reach out to a doctor or mental health professional for medical advice diagnosis or treatment.

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