Over the years, I have noticed something inside of me start to develop, and that is the need for regular retail therapy. In other words – I like to shop.

I figure that I’m not the only woman with this problem, so I decided to write about it. 🙂

While I like to buy something every so often, I still consider myself a “normal shopper”. I don’t spend hours in a mall, I’m just always “looking around”.

Lately however, I’ve noticed that regardless of whether I receive good or bad news, I’ll buy something. If it’s good news, I buy something to “celebrate”. If it’s bad news or if I’m frustrated with something or work, I buy something to “cheer me up”.

This recent realization has got me thinking that perhaps I might just be addicted to shopping.

So I went deeper into understanding my habit. It hit me that it wasn’t just about good or bad news, it was about emotion. If I was proud and happy, I would shop. If I was sad, clueless or frustrated, I would shop.

At first I thought it was only me. But then I realized there was a name for this problem – retail therapy.

According to Time magazine, “A survey conducted by TNS Global on behalf of found that more than half of Americans (52%, including 64% of women and 40% of men) admit to engaging in “retail therapy” – the act of shopping and spending to improve one’s mood. This echoes a previous study, published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing, that revealed 62% of shoppers had purchased something to cheer themselves up, and another 28% had purchased as a form of celebration.” You can read the full article here.

Wikipedia even says that it’s a psychological disorder! “Researchers at Melbourne University have advocated its classification as a psychological disorder called oniomania or compulsive shopping disorder”.

So, when I learned this I decided to conduct a little experiment for this need for frequent retail therapy.

I went on a “shopping detox”.

I quit shopping for a month and I discovered a few things.

For one, less is definitely more. I realized that most of the things I wanted, I really didn’t need. These things I was buying were an impulse buy. I also noticed I don’t need much stuff to be happy. In fact, after three weeks of being on this detox I realized that buying stuff had nothing to do with feeling and being happy at all! (This was an “A-ha!” moment for me.)

I realized that happiness comes from within. No dress, shoe or bag is directly associated with actually making me feel better – though it can make me look better. Whether I was happy or not depended on me, and nothing or noone else. That one was tough though, because the idea of instant happiness was so appealing. But all that is just a façade – deep, meaningful and lasting relationships was something I needed to work on with me, myself and I.

Through this process I also realized that more shopping detox, meant more money in the bank! By not shopping for a few weeks, my savings were adding up. It was nice to see that instead of cash flowing toward shopping bills, it was going straight into my growing nest egg. (High five from my future self!)

So… after getting this far, are you thinking (or maybe you know) that you might have a “retail therapy” problem just like me?

Don’t worry – you can do this detox too. Here are 4 tips on how to do that:

1. Set A Timeframe

I normally do it for a month at a go. Personally, I feel 30 days is the perfect timeline to keep your bad habits in check, and it’s a totally doable – 30 days can go in a blink if you keep yourself busy.

2. Set The Rules

Set some parameters: for me, it’s “only kids shopping allowed” (if we really need it) and “household shopping allowed” (again, only if we need it). Really though, it’s your detox so your rules. You can decide how light or heavy you want to take it.

3. Accept Yourself Throughout The Process

During your detox you will experience some “withdrawal symptoms” and see parts of yourself that you may not like. Don’t judge this side of you, just understand it and accept it. We live in a consumption-happy society and buying is becoming more and more a part of ourselves. The first step to changing this habit is to realize it and admit it.

4. Enjoy

Appreciate the fact that through this process you’re learning more about yourself. What triggers you and excites you. Also enjoy the fact that you’ll end up with more money to spend on the things that you really do need and love.

And so with that retail therapy advice I know sometimes we do face a challenge – how do you go on a shopping detox when a season like Christmas or New Year is around the corner? For one, detoxing on the shopping now helps to ease you into a comfortable holiday budget, and second, perhaps think “presence” versus “presents”.

Watch this thoughtful 3-minute video – hope it touches your heart like it did mine!

Know anything about needing retail therapy? We’d love to hear your story and tips below!

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