Do we really need retail therapy?


I have been using retail therapy for most of my life to get me out of a depressed state and up until quite recently my answer would have been an absolute “Yes”!  However, just recently I have been questioning whether it really works or is it just a quick fix that lasts for a few hours and at most a few days?


I have spent many years – 30 to be exact – overseas on a tax free expat salary where we always had some change in our pockets. and on a regular basis I used retail therapy to make myself feel better when I was a little bit down.


Now that I’m back in England working for myself and with taxes and bills to pay I am questioning my recent “need“ for retail therapy.


It has been a long time since I had bought any clothes for myself – and let’s face it ladies – retail therapy is all about clothes is it not?  


I have recently opened a new Pilates studio and I am experiencing those extra expenses involved with any new venture but on the weekend I was craving retail therapy.   All I needed to do was hop on my bike, ride down to the Trafford Centre in Manchester where I have loads of fabulous shops to choose from and then produce my credit card.


But guess what?  I’m proud to say that I resisted!


What’s Your Alternative to Retail Therapy?


If we come to the conclusion that retail therapy is not the answer to a depressed or unhappy state, then we need to come up with an alternative don’t you think?


So my strategy this weekend just gone was to sign up to do one of my speeches at Toastmasters.   I have been given a slot on the Monday last and I had the weekend to prepare for it.


I had my goal which I knew would benefit me, I had my deadline, and I managed to find the motivation.


It’s not easy to come up with a speech, let alone practise it and get it to anywhere near perfect but I had a few advantages, and that was (1)  I had done it before so one I knew I could do it (2) I knew how good it felt after I had done it and (3) if you put in the work the feedback is amazing and makes you feel better than any type of retail therapy available!


Maybe putting together a speech or talk and delivering it isn’t your thing….


The secret is to have a list of things that you want to achieve on a day-to-day, weekly, monthly or annual basis. And then we need to have the confidence that it will not only boost our confidence but also make us feel very proud when completed.


The main motivating factor for my achievement of completing the speech, being happy with the final version and getting great feedback was having a deadline. Many times over the weekend I told myself I don’t have enough time for this.I can’t do it. This is a waste of time. It’s not going to be any good.  But I really knew that none of this mattered.   It’s the doing and not the failure if it doesn’t work that counts. And in fact it is a win-win situation whatever the outcome.


Retail therapy gives is that feeling of being better, looking better or just feeling better. But in my experience it really doesn’t last and possibly within a few days I have lost interest in what I purchased.


I had written my speech, practised it and presented it probably in the same amount of time it would take me to go shopping, look around the shops, and then decide what to buy… but the rewards of doing something constructive that takes a bit of effort are long-lasting:  they nourish my soul, boost my confidence and give me a sense of achievement.


So the next time you feel that compelling urge to do a bit of retail therapy, pause, and see if you can come up with a more worthwhile activity that will have you feeling great about yourself for a long time afterwards.


If you find it hard to come up with alternative behaviours then I suggest taking some ‘you’ time to get in touch with your true feelings, desires and needs.  


A great way to spend ‘you’ time is by doing Pilates.  Check out my Open Day on 18th August if you have not done it before but are interested to find out more .


Happy August!





PS  Coming up with alternative activities to retail therapy should be so much easier now that it’s Summer!