Stress, break-ups, divorce, even a death in the family—when life give you lemons, what do you do? For a lot of people, “making lemonade,” means going to the mall for some “retail therapy.” The real question is, “Does retail therapy actually work?”
According to a study conducted by TNS Global and published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing, more than half of Americans engage in retail therapy. Researchers found that 62% of shoppers had bought something to cheer themselves up and another 28% bought something to celebrate. But, just because we do it, doesn’t mean it works.
While reaching for your wallet is nothing like traditional talk therapy, it does have some proven, positive psychological rewards. According to an analysis in Psychology Today, retail therapy can lift the mood, help with mental preparation, improve performance, and ease tension.
Here are 5 real benefits of retail therapy:
1. Relaxation and rejuvenation
Psychologists have long known the benefits of stress relieving activities– massage, exercise, or a long drive. Going shopping can actually have many of the same benefits, and many shoppers find that the activity provides entertainment, relaxation, and a much needed escape from day to day challenges and stresses. Ever noticed that you come to a solution when you are in the shower or driving in the car? Sometimes, a little mindless distraction can help you solve a problem. Many shoppers feel that same calming escape and rejuvenation by changing their routine. The mall or your favorite store can give you that quality “me” time that will help to put it all in perspective.
2. Social bonding
Psychology experts have long known the benefits of social interaction. Shopping offers a way for people to connect to each other. Being at the mall gives you a social forum to exchange ideas and taste. You can also connect with your friends over products you love. Even online shoppers have bonded over their favorite products, provided reviews, and shared advice. Dealing with emotional distress is always helped by some human contact and connection. Getting out and going to the mall and being social can definitely be therapeutic.
3. Visualizations and transition
Mental health professionals have found that one of the greatest stresses in life is transition. Divorce is a prime example, as both spouses are forced to start a new life without their former partner. Researchers found that those who went out and purchased new clothes, new home décor, or other personal items felt as though they were starting anew. According to researchers, shopping can provide much needed visualization and mental preparation. Visualization exercises are known to reduce anxiety and improve performance, especially helpful when going through a transition such as a break-up, having a newborn, or losing a loved one. Shopping gives people a tangible way to visualize and prepare for a new life.
4. Dressing for success
When picking out a dress for graduation, preparing to start a new job, or shopping for your wedding day, you will likely be shopping to “dress for success.” Closing a chapter or starting a new phase in life means that you will want to look and feel the part. As we all know, having confidence before you start your first day or walk down the aisle is critical to success. Psychologists have studied the relationship between looking the part and performance, finding that those who dress the part are more likely to succeed. If you need an excuse for some new clothes before you start that job, this is it.
5. Creativity, aesthetics, and pleasure
Have you ever noticed that you do actually feel better in a room with just the right lighting? Or that a scented candle can actually lift your spirits? Shopping to soothe your creative and aesthetic side has had proven results in mood boosting. While some see shopping for luxury items as being all about status, or that having “things” is just about consumerism, psychologists know that making purchases is much more complicated. Having an appreciation for art, design, and your surroundings can actually awaken your senses and improve your mood.