Science says shopping reduces stress

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Science says shopping reduces stress

Ireland Shelton, Staff Writer

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North junior Alison Williams often drives to her closest TJMaxx to find the cutest clothes at a relatively affordable price to distract herself from a stressful day. She picks up a grey sweater and a dusty pink vest. As she walks to the dressing room, she’s excited to see how the two pieces look together.  Suddenly, she feels relaxed and happy, unlike when she walked in.

“Retail therapy” seems to be a popular method of coping for many people like Williams.

Williams is a straight-A honors student and a competitive varsity cheerleader. She deals with stress everyday trying to balance her schoolwork, social life and sports schedule.

In order to manage her stress, she often goes shopping to take her mind off things.

“I shop when I’m stressed or upset to make myself feel better,” Williams said.

According to Kit Yarrow in her article, “Why ‘Retail Therapy’ Works” from “Psychology Today”, “62% of shoppers [ in a study done by Selin Atalay and Margaret Meloy] purchased something to cheer them up.”

This is because shopping can stimulate the brain and can have a psychological impact on people.

“Basically what happens is the anticipation of buying things, and we’re very materialistic so shopping is a very common thing that we do.”North psychology teacher Brandie Schlott said. “So, we think buying things is going to make us feel better, because you get this flood and release of dopamine in anticipation of shopping or actually doing it, you actually feel pleasure from that.”

This release of dopamine causes a “high” often like the feeling commonly called a “runner’s high.” The feelings of happiness and joy makes people want to engage in that activity again which can cause unhealthy addictions. If done without caution, sometimes shopping can become an addiction that will hurt the brain and the bank account.

“[I go shopping] every week or sometimes every other week,” North junior Mary Hennessey said.

Hennessey has mastered how to shop, and she knows how to make financially wise decisions. Unfortunately, some people aren’t as thoughtful about shopping, and it can hurt them in the long run.

“If somebody forms a shopping addiction it can have long term effects like any addiction,” Schlott said.

Usually, in the moment of the purchase, the shopper feels excited and happy, but right after a feeling of guilt and regret could occur. Typical signs of a shopping addiction are buying items compulsively without thinking, lying and arguing about their spending habits and buying items that they do not necessarily need or want. While a shopping addiction doesn’t really have any physical effects, it can escalate into something more serious.

“It’s just a matter of the person and what they’re going through because they find if it’s not a shopping addiction, it can be a gambling or drug addiction,” Schlott said.

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