I don’t know about you but as the quarantine in my state gets extended out, I am working hard to find ways to entertain myself. And often, I find myself browsing online retailers or clicking on Instagram ads “just to look” but then contemplating spending money (or actually doing it). Retail therapy, as it is often called, is when we buy ourselves a little something to cheer ourselves up or make ourselves feel better, and it’s very common. Psychology Today found that 62% of shoppers have purchased something at some point to make themselves feel better. While indulging in a little bit of shopping to make yourself feel better isn’t always a bad thing, in a time when budgets are tighter and people are losing their jobs, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss some alternatives to retail therapy that you can use during this difficult time that won’t break the bank.
- Get Lost in a Good Book: Some of my best friends growing up were characters from books. The worlds that are created and the adventures that are had have often helped me move from my own troubles to a happier state. During these confusing and chaotic times, I recommend picking up a good book. And this doesn’t have to be an activity that costs you money. Even though physical libraries are closed, most have digital catalogues you can borrow from. You could even arrange a book swap (social distancing style) with friends or relatives. I recently had a friend ask if she could drop off some books for me to read, I gladly accepted. I also went through my own reading material and got out some books I had already read that I thought she might enjoy. One morning I put the books out on my porch in a grocery sack and later that day she came and picked them up and left her books for me. We didn’t even have to talk to each other! She even wrote a note with a little about each book and what she liked about them. It was a great way to stay connected in these crazy times and has given me a good and free way to spend my me time!
- Bake Something: Whether you bake something from scratch, or use a box mix, baking is a great way to relax, feel accomplished, and create something yummy. I always have the ingredients for a simple batch of chocolate chip cookies in my house. This recipe is my go to, because it is SO CHOCOLATEY! But I love boxed brownies and muffins too! I have seen lots of recipes floating around Pinterest and pictures on Instagram of breads and treats people are trying out. Use what you have and get creative! Right now is the perfect time to try something new.
- Get Outside and Move: It’s amazing what some time out in fresh air and moving your body can do for your mood. It can help ease your stress and anxiety, so you won’t need the pick me up that retail therapy provides. Observing the guidelines of social distancing in your area, try to get out and move once a day. You could go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride. You could jump on the trampoline with your kids. You could even have a neighborhood dance party from your driveways. Get creative and find ways to enjoy the world around you! Spring is such a beautiful time!
- Pamper Yourself: I know I often get the urge to shop when I am stressed and not feeling good about myself. One solution to this is to make time to pamper yourself. Grab your favorite nail polish and give yourself a manicure or a pedicure. Put a face mask on and pretend you are at the spa. Or just sit quietly and meditate for a while. Do whatever makes you feel rested and rejuvenated! If you want the social aspect of pampering yourself, video chat with a friend while you both do your nails or give yourselves facials. Just because you are staying home doesn’t mean you can’t socialize and treat yourself…and without spending any money!
- Reorganize and Declutter Your Space: Sometimes when we are stressed or anxious, we forget about all the things that we have going for us. And the scarcity mindset that is running through our society that creates our fear of not having essentials can make this even worse. Taking time to organize spaces in your home and go through your belongings can help move you from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance, by helping you realize just how much you already have. Reflecting on this can help you move you to a place of gratitude. Understanding what you have and truly taking stock of it can also help you curb those impulses to buy just for the sake of buying.
Retail therapy isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes buying something to cheer yourself up or celebrate is ok. But when these purchases start affecting your budget and your ability to meet other financial obligations, it can become too much. It’s important, especially when times are uncertain, to find other outlets for your emotions that don’t affect your budget. What is your favorite way to relieve stress that doesn’t involve spending money?