Shopping can be a mood lifter, but when shopping becomes your stress reliever, it can tip you down a slippery slope if you don’t watch out.

Stress shopping, or shopping to relieve stress, can unexpectedly become your source of more stress, especially if your budget is tight and finances start to be drained when spending becomes uncontrolled. The euphoria from your shopping can evaporate quickly, only to be replaced by remorse and guilt from rounds of compulsive buying.

Ask yourself, does the word “shopping” pop into your mind each time deadlines run tight and workload piles high?

5 Signs of a Stressed Shopper


  1. Compulsive shopping:

    You have a strong urge to hit the shops when you feel stressed, frustrated or anxious and must buy something.

  2. Impulsive decisions:

    It doesn’t take you long to decide what to buy. You are in a “buy first, worry later” mode, and you may buy things you don’t need or didn’t plan to buy.

  3. Indulgent purchases:

    You feel that you deserve to splurge on an item that you’ve eyed for some time. You rationalise your spending and feel defensive about your purchases.

  4. Emotional high:

    You get a rush of positive emotions – of euphoria and excitement – after the cashier hands over your shopping bags. Buying makes you feel good.

  5. Shopping alone

    You prefer to shop by yourself, so that you don’t have to explain your purchases or answer to anyone.

Related: Understanding Stress

Post-shopping Blues


Often, the joy from stress shopping pops and buyer’s remorse kicks in.

You may start to regret your actions, or question your buying decisions. You may feel guilty for chalking up bills and debts, or from having less money to spend on other necessary expenses. If you already own a lot of things at home, the added clutter from your recent purchases may be overwhelming too.

What’s more, the initial stressors which prompted you to hit the malls probably haven’t gone away. The stress will build up and multiply as you engage in more stress shopping because you have to deal with the guilt and remorse on top of the stressors you are feeling.

Related: Overcoming Stress

3 Ways to Avoid Stress Shopping


You can avoid stress shopping if you try other ways to relieve stress, such as exercising, practising mindfulness or spending time with your loved ones. Let shopping become an occasional perk-me-up activity and not an avenue to escape from your woes. Here’re 3 tips to avoid stress shopping:

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Start your shopping by decluttering and discarding what you don’t need. Then make a shopping list and know your budget before you hit the shops. This gives you purpose, allowing you to shop for the right reasons. Consider shopping at fundraising events, flea markets or swapaholic events instead.

As an added precaution, shop with cash and leave your credit cards at home. You become more aware of an item’s cost and avoid buying expensive items on a whim.

2. Avoid Buying on Impulse

Take time to shop instead of feeling rushed into buying. Always compare prices, look for good value and quality instead of falling prey to sales tactics such as “today only” or “last day of discount” offers.

If you shop online, leave items in your shopping cart and mull over them before finally hitting the “check out” button. You can also limit accessibility to online shopping by blocking your favourite shopping sites. For example, if you get stressed at work, block those sites to avoid making impulse purchases triggered by stress and frustration.

Watch out for other shopping triggers, such as the Great Singapore Sale, during festive seasons, or when pay day comes around. It’s especially easy to be lax on your purchases when you’ve just been given a pay raise, or received a fat bonus.

3. Shop in a Pack

Make shopping a social activity with friends and family. Shopping with company has multiple benefits. You are spending quality time together doing an enjoyable activity that is stress-relieving on its own. What’s more, you can remind each other not to be impulsive and to stick to the shopping list and budget.

There are better ways to manage stress in life. Be a smart shopper. Not a stressed shopper!

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


Read these next:


  1. Scott, E. (2018, Jan 06). How Retail Therapy Is Used for Stress Management [Website].
    Retrieved October 2017 from https://www.verywell.com/retail-therapy-and-stress-3145259

  2. Engs, R. (2010, Dec). How can I manage compulsive shopping and spending addiction (shopoholism) [Website].
    Retrieved October 2017 from http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/hints/shop.html