April 9, 2019

Therapies More Effective Than Retail Therapy - The Reader-Generated Definitive List

Spending time in nature is my preferred therapeutic activity.

In consumer societies, shopping is a popular way to combat the blues, or celebrate an event. This behaviour has been co-opted by those who have something to sell, and optimistically labelled "retail therapy".

A 2014 study found that 62% of respondents reported that they had bought something to cheer themselves up, while 28% went shopping as a form of celebration. Retailers love those numbers.

While shopping is not my thing, the fact remains that there can be psychological benefits to engaging in that activity. 

In moderation, acquiring things may serve to increase your self-confidence, help you reach mastery of something you enjoy doing, or put you into contact with other people in your community. 

For many, however, shopping can become problematic, and any potential therapeutic effects are nullified.

If you avoid credit card or bank statements, lie about or hide purchases, miss work, school, or other obligations to go shopping, experience shame, guilt, or irritability with shopping, then it becomes an activity that is no longer therapeutic. 

What it is in that case is consumerism in its worst form - the ever increasing acquisition of goods and services fuelled by planned obsolescence and the multi-billion dollar marketing industry.

If shopping therapy is not your thing, the following reader-generated list of activities that you may find more effective, is something to consider. 

I am a big fan of all of them.

- Nature Therapy 
- Conversation Therapy 
- Exercise Therapy
- Meditation Therapy

- Garden Therapy
- Helping Others Therapy
- Cooking Therapy
- Reading Therapy

- Game/Puzzle Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Art Therapy
- Cleaning/Laundry Therapy

Do you have a favourite therapeutic activity you find more soothing than shopping? It is always good to hear about how others are using healthier/less expensive/environmentally damaging activities to improve their mood. 

I added a couple more that came to mind since I wrote my initial post (that you can find here). And now that I think of it, laughter therapy is another one of my all time favourites.

Help make our definitive list even more definitive.

Share your suggestions in the comment section. Lets create the most authoritative "Alternatives to Shopping" list on the internet.


  1. I've thought of a few more things I enjoy i.e. find therepuetic. These fit under the therapies you listed. Bird watching which easily fits under nature therapy. I can sit and watch birds for hours. I find it therepuetic, relaxing and meditative. So is star gazing. I quite enjoy walking in parks and in the woods (Nature and Exercise therapy) I love rocks! I love to look at them whether outside or my personal collection. I've spent thousands of hours just studying them, thinking about the processes that made them. Maybe we could add learning therapy to the list.

    I used to take a lot of pictures when I used an SLR film camera. I've tried to switch to a digital SLR and it isn't the same. I use my phone for pictures and that isn't therepuetic. But I loved shooting with a film camera. (Art therapy) I especially enjoy taking pictures of flowers. I'll send you some I took recently.
    This has been a thought-stimulating topic. It's been nice to see people in this community engaged in this subject and see the updated post.

    1. Anonymous4/10/2019

      Agree with all of this, Terri! There are just so many other things to do besides shopping. And things that feel good even AFTER doing them, because so often people don't feel good after shopping. I did some birding yesterday and am still thinking about the lovely birds I saw. That's neat you love taking flower pictures, those are some of my favorite pictures to look at. The park I birded yesterday had lots of Fawn Lilies up - it was a carpet of the white/green flowers and the delicate leaves. Amazing... Great to see the updated post, Gregg, thanks! -- Mary

    2. Anonymous4/11/2019

      Star gazing, that's a beautiful one :-)


    3. Anonymous4/11/2019

      Tea drinking has got to be one of my favourites.

      'There is no trouble so grave that it cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea' Bernard-Paul Heroux

      'Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future' Thich Nat Hahn


  2. I love doing yoga in the middle of the workday. I close the door to my office, kick off my shoes, and do a few movements. On YouTube there is a woman with a YouTube show called “Yoga with Adriene” and I love her (free!) videos and when her dog ambles into the frame and gifts us with his presence! Ha. She has one video called Yoga at the Office even. Her videos are very instructive and she has a lovely voice and demeanor. Definitely falls into the category of exercise therapy!

    1. Anonymous4/11/2019

      Nadya, how funny to think we are both doing yoga with the same instructor on opposite sides of the world! (I am in Australia)


  3. People - watching therapy. (And that can be done in a shopping area!)


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