Fear, Gratitude, and Online Shopping: Can Retail Therapy Cure Your Anxiety?

Image by Elizabeth Donohue


Hello, from the depths of self-quarantine. In the good name of social distancing, I’ve been locked away in my bedroom at all hours of the day, only escaping for my singular, government-approved daily walk, and to ravage my kitchen which is, at the moment, stocked full of Trader Joe’s whole wheat pasta, White Claw, and Cheerios.


Life right now is halted. The city is all-but locked down. March has passed in a blur. All of this, a reminder that reality can alter at any given moment. With that being said, it makes sense that we’re all turning on survival mode. I can understand why Amazon sold out of toilet paper and I can understand why Purell sold on eBay for $500. But what I can’t understand is, amidst all of this crisis, I have the overwhelming urge to start clothing shopping with a similar sense of urgency that I did with pasta at Trader Joe’s. (In case you were wondering, I bought 7 bags of whole wheat fusilli pasta.)


I know I’m not the only one filling up my virtual shopping cart with things I’ll probably never buy. I spent a solid hour in a group chat debating whether or not a friend should purchase a pair of red bell bottoms off of Depop. The final decision was made the next day; the pants were a necessity.


Shopping is a method of coping that consumers have been taught to use at an early age. In fact, it’s the heart of our entire economy. Time and time again, retail therapy is proven to relieve stress during times of crisis or emotional turmoil. For me, I’ve been clinging onto the idea that one day, one glorious day, I’ll be able to actually wear real clothes again.


If you’re going to shop to relieve some stress, my recommendation is to shop smaller, independent retailers. Take this time to explore Depop, Etsy, and small businesses that maybe pop up on your Instagram feed. A lot of them are offering great discount codes and sales right now, and could use the extra financial boost.


Stay safe, shop responsibly. We wanna get through this with our minds, bodies, and wallets, intact!

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