Shopping the Blues away

There are some techniques that can be used to relieve the blues without medication. The blues we refer to here are the flagging spirits that last for a few days – not more than a week or two. Beyond that, the blues can turn into something much more sinister in a form of depression. But the run-of-the-mill blues can be dealt with more quickly and conveniently without professional help or medications.

Various ways of dealing with sadness or the blues include getting a bit more exercise, writing or journaling, reading something that takes your mind off your troubles, playing a sport you enjoy, chatting with friends who will support you, or going somewhere relaxing to spend time away from your regular routine and surroundings. All these activities rev up the hormones in the body that help provide a natural lift for the spirits. These are also wholesome and harmless ways of coping with the blues – which, by the way, we all get from time to time on various levels.

Other ways of dealing are also quite common but are not so harmless. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol – substance abuse is common as a quick fix for the blues. In reality, this only serves to magnify the problems. Another way of dealing is by shopping. Shopping the blues away is not a safe nor sound way of managing sagging spirits. When we’re sad, we tend not to use our best judgment about spending or purchasing only the things we really need. An innocent trip to the mall can lead to thousands of dollars of merchandise in one trip, and can sometimes literally break the bank. At the time, it may or may not feel good. If it does, the fix is only temporary and the ramifications will hit later, usually on the way home when you realize you’re going to have to explain all the new merchandise. Reality starts to settle in fairly quickly.

If it doesn’t feel good at the time, the guilt will have an adverse reaction and can cause a cycle of spending. You spend to feel good, but it doesn’t help and you feel worse, so you spend more trying to get that good feeling – that high – which makes you feel even worse when the money’s gone or the credit cards have melted, and so on. It can be a vicious cycle. Some people with shopping addictions admit to actually feeling physically ill while shopping, and have near or full-blown panic attacks before they ever reach the check-out. When this happens, a cart-load of unpaid purchases may be found near the check-out counter. It can also happen in grocery stores where the buyer suffers a panic attack due to the amount of money being spent, and abandons the whole cart of food upon reaching the check-out lanes.

Most women, especially, who use shopping to ease the blues prefer to shop for clothing or accessories, household goods, or lavish treats such as jewelry that they would not otherwise buy. They are vulnerable to poor decision-making during an episode of the blues, and wrongly think shopping will take their mind off their troubles or that new purchases will make everything better. What they are doing is compounding their troubles by running up credit card bills or spending cash that should be spent for routine expenses. This activity spirals the spirits down even further when the reality of the shopping spree hits home. It’s even more convenient and easier to “over shop” with the help of the Internet, where you can buy anything that suits your fancy at the moment.

It’s not only women who use this destructive method of dealing with the blues. Some men use shopping to lift their spirits, as well. They may buy expensive clothing, gifts, jewelry, other accessories, electronic gadgets, and even vehicles. Couples find themselves in dire straits once they realize how much one or both of them have indulged and what effect it has had on the overall financial picture in the household. Individual or family budgets can be ruined entirely by just one shopping spree during an encounter with the blues.

If shopping the blues away has become a routine or is a problem even occasionally, it is best to speak with a counselor or therapist about the issue before it gets too far out of hand. He or she can provide helpful solutions and alternative ways of dealing with the blues. If you ignore this problem and think it is not harmful, one day you will realize the hard way how each shopping trip during a vulnerable period means “shopping for the blues” instead of “shopping your blues away.”