Going Shopping: Stress Relief or Necessary Burden?

It is almost a rule nowadays to associate smiling happy women and frowning men while going shopping and buying clothes. The reverse might be true when we talk about buying computers or different technical equipment. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but, generally, we tend to associate more women spending too much time on choosing and buying things like nice clothes, accessories or jewelry, whereas men tend to do more substantial and planned purchases. But why do we, in general, spend so much time on shopping? Why do some people even become addicted to shopping?

We are living in a high-speed society, which puts a lot of pressure on us demanding to be good at different things: to have a nice job, to be a good parent, to have a lot of interests and hobbies, to speak several foreign languages, etc. As we fail something or cannot do everything at once, we might often feel stressed. This stress has to be relieved somehow or, otherwise, the tension will grow to the extent that we might even get sick. Retail therapy can be one of many ways to elevate the mood and get rid of stress.

I have tried retail therapy personally and I can say that it does work. Buying a silk scarf or silver earrings after a hard working week does make you feel much better. It is a kind of reward you give to yourself as if saying: "You did a good job. You deserve to have this silk scarf". And it is not even the thing itself that brings so much joy, but rather the process of going shopping, choosing one scarf among many others, trying them all on. It really can take you more than two hours to buy some small and, usually, irrelevant thing. It can be compared to going to a café and drinking coffee with your friends for more than an hour. You can have the same coffee at home, but it's not really the coffee that matters, but the atmosphere in the café, nice background music, talking to your friends. For the majority of men (with the exceptions, of course) it might be difficult to understand how one can spend hours buying a scarf. Maybe, that's because men tend to be more practical, maybe because they are more interested in other things than buying clothes. Furthermore, I noticed that men often get irritated when they have to spend too much time shopping, and it might even be 'dangerous' to ask your boyfriend to go shopping with you and spend hours there. Asking myself why it is so, I suddenly came to realize that shopping can be both very entertaining and frustrating depending on your mood, interests and whether you buy things that you like or things that you really have to buy. Somehow, when you absolutely have to buy something, especially quickly, the fun of going shopping disappears and shopping turns into a kind of burden.

I remember spending several days looking for beige shoes that would go with the dress I was supposed to wear as a bridesmaid at my friend's wedding party. I was short of time and all the shoes I found were either way too expensive or uncomfortable or not my size. It wasn't fun at all. The same situation happens when I have to buy some practical things I need for my house. Being not technically proficient, I also find it difficult to make a right choice. In such a case, retail therapy turns into a retail nightmare. To eliminate this kind of stress from my life, I found online shopping particularly useful, especially when I have to buy some home appliances as I can choose myself when to look at the goods, to read reviews, to contact customer support with additional questions. I still prefer buying clothes in shops, trying things on, touching the material, but I can eliminate some stress by doing online shopping when it comes to buying some other necessary things.

As in every situation, there are two sides of one coin, and since everybody's experience is unique, it is important to choose for oneself how much time to spend on shopping, how and where to buy things. Going shopping does relieve stress, but only when you do it the way that is most suitable for you.