How Stress Shopping Might Be Hurting Your Wallet

Live Well Diary Team

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stress shopping

It is evident that individuals often experience a heavy load of responsibilities and stress. During such times one may yearn for something that can provide a source of relief or bring joy amidst the challenges of life. In pursuit of achieving this, the question arises – what could be done to alleviate these feelings?

You go shopping to your heart’s content, of course!

I can relate to having experienced this scenario on countless occasions. Combining feelings of boredom and stress that ensued when situations did not unfold as anticipated led me to engage in shopping as a means to regain a sense of control.

It has taken me some time to recognise this fact. But although it may initially appear as a convenient method to alleviate stress. Engaging in this practice can ultimately create more complications than resolutions.

Are you curious about the nature of stress shopping and its implications? Can you detect telltale signs when engaged in this behaviour yourself? Are there methods that can be employed to halt this cycle of stress-induced shopping?

What is stress shopping?

Stress shopping is described as unplanned spending due to feelings of anxiety or depression.

It is also a dangerous habit that can lead to serious debt and a cluttered home.

Why Do We Stress Shop?

One way to effectively divert our attention from the various sources of stress in our lives is by engaging in a simple activity. For instance, when faced with a challenging day at work, it is not uncommon for our thoughts to wander towards the supermarket aisle, where we may be tempted to purchase items that were not initially on our list.

stress shopping credit card

The Financial Downsides of Stress Shopping

Stress shopping can lead to debt. Often, impulsive purchases make individuals spend more than they can afford. This tendency can result in making unwise financial choices.

Engaging in stress shopping can result in the development of detrimental spending patterns that may prove difficult to break free from, consequently perpetuating the cycle of stress shopping itself. You may find yourself tempted to purchase items that do not align with your needs. Only to later feel remorse as they sit idle and gather dust.

Can Stress Shopping Be Stopped?

It can be hard to stop stress shopping, but it can be done.

We ought to understand the core reason why we stress shop. There are various reasons why we might engage in such behaviour. One possible motivation is the desire to evade or avoid our problems. Another reason could be the need to divert our attention away from those issues. Additionally, some individuals may engage in this behaviour out of guilt for spending funds on other activities or purchases.

Perhaps, we simply desire to acquire something pleasant for our own enjoyment.

We need to determine how much we spend on stress shopping each month. How much of the funds are allocated towards initiatives that contribute to problem-solving, and how much is directed towards endeavours that do not?

For example, if you are stressed about work, could buying a new computer help as this could make you more productive? Or will buying shoes be more effective because it makes you look good?

Pay attention and identify the signs of stress shopping. It’s important to recognise when you’re under pressure because that may be the only way to catch yourself before buying something unnecessary or expensive.

How To Overcome Your Impulse to Stress-Shop

1) Go window shopping!

Window shopping is retail therapy, but instead of buying things you don’t need, you look at them and imagine yourself owning them.

If ever you feel tempted by an item as you happen upon it in person but don’t have the urge to buy it right away (or at all). Giving yourself time away from the store is crucial to avoid making impulsive decisions.

If you find yourself still being enticed to make a purchase. If you would like, it may be worth considering capturing an image of the item using your mobile device. By doing so, you will have a visual representation of it to refer back to in the future. It is important to take a moment to contemplate whether or not this specific item will genuinely contribute to your overall happiness.

2) If you feel stress shopping is getting out of hand, take a day off.

Admittedly, it may initially appear unconventional; nonetheless, adopting this approach can effectively recalibrate your mindset and gently prompt you to recognise that accumulating additional possessions is not crucial at this particular moment.

3) Create a “stress budget.”

Use your “stress budget” wisely. It is recommended to allocate a predetermined amount of money either on a weekly or monthly basis for discretionary expenses. This practice allows individuals the freedom to spend on various items of their choice within the set limit.

But if it goes over the limit, it’s gone! That way, you won’t go overboard with your shopping impulses because they won’t leave any spending room once fulfilled.

4) Walk it off.

Occasionally engaging in stress shopping serves as a means to release pent-up energy when we feel trapped or uninterested. Consequently, opting for a leisurely walk or power walking is also a productive method of soothing ourselves.

There are numerous advantages associated with spending time outdoors, particularly for individuals residing in urban settings. One notable benefit is the improvement in the quality of sleep. While another advantage is the enhanced productivity levels.

5) It is recommended to reach out to a reliable person in your life who brings you comfort and positivity. This person could be a friend or a family member. Engage in a conversation with them. Address the situation that led to the appearance of this stressor.

By talking through the situation with them (and sharing how much better they make you feel), they’ll be able to provide perspective on how best to go forward from here.

Talking things out with another person can also help you feel less isolated, lessen anxiety and feel supported during challenging times.

6) Do something that makes you happy! Nothing boosts mood as quickly as doing something fun or engaging that brings joy into our lives. Look over the list below for ideas on what activities work best, depending on your preferences. There’s no wrong choice here because whatever works are all good 🙂

Here’s the list

  • Read a book
  • Volunteer your time to charity
  • Do some gardening.
  • Watch an exciting sci-fi movie or funny tv series
  • Watch a funny or silly video
  • Perform random acts of kindness
  • Listen to your favourite song
  • Spend time (a full day) with family and friends
  • Learn a new sport
  • Learn how to paint
  • Learn a new language

7) Listen or read books on minimalism.

The thing that helped me stop stress shopping was listening to audible books about minimalism which in turn helped me as well in decluttering my mind.

I used to be a very stressed shopping person. I always go shopping when stressed, which costs me a lot. It also made my physical environment cluttered, which added to my stress.

In the philosophy of minimalism, an important principle I have discovered is the importance of making thoughtful decisions regarding our finances. We must prioritise our expenditure wisely and refrain from indulging in unnecessary items or services.

Prioritising self-care and feeling good about oneself should take precedence over spending money on temporary sources of happiness.


It is our genuine desire that after going through this article, you will carefully contemplate embracing alternative means to handle your negative emotions.

When individuals are feeling stressed, and in need of a quick solution, it would be advisable for them to consider alternative options, such as taking a walk or participating in other activities, rather than resorting to shopping.

In the event that dealing with stress-induced shopping has become overwhelming and all other avenues have been explored, considering reaching out to a professional counsellor might prove beneficial. Their assistance can help pinpoint the core issue contributing to your challenges.

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