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4 Ways Shopping Can Actually Improve Your Life

"Retail therapy" is often casually used as a guilt-free excuse to go shopping. But is the concept actually credible?

Shopping is an excellent way to have fun and treat yourself. Surprisingly, it can also have a positive impact on your mind, body, and overall well-being. In this blog post, we have explored 4 ways in which shopping offers notable benefits and how you can make the most out of these advantages.

1. Can Relieve Mild Depression & Boost Productivity

If you frequently go on shopping sprees, you're likely familiar with the rush of happiness that almost instantly follows a new purchase. However, did you know that this feeling of pleasure is rooted in a physiological process, and influences your brain in several ways? When shopping, our minds anticipate the reward of a new purchase by producing dopamine–a neurotransmitter responsible for creating feelings of pleasure and satisfaction–and endorphins that help relieve pain and stress. According to research conducted by neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky, these physical reactions are mainly driven by anticipation and unpredictability; shoppers may experience a mood boost–and even relief from mild depression–just from bargain hunting, online browsing, or window shopping.

In addition to that, taking time for a brief shopping break gives our brains a break from the daily grind. Research also demonstrates that short diversions are beneficial for increased focus and productivity later in the day. However, it is essential to note that these benefits are linked to thoughtful, reflective shopping; spending responsibly is crucial to avoiding debt, or overextending financially.

2. Keeps You Moving with Low-Impact Activity

Most Indian doctors recommend that you walk for at least 30 minutes a day to avoid getting diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. However, going for a walk may be the last thing you’d want to do during peak summers when the temperature can reach 45 degrees.

On an average, an Indian shopping mall is 190,000 sq ft in size and has about 175 retailers per centre. Since a typical mall is large, you may be burning more calories during your shopping spree than you'd think. In fact, casual shopping for 2 hours involves enough walking to burn about 300 calories, more if you take into account the weight you carry from the purchases and shopping bags.

According to Harvard Medical, walking is an excellent way to stay active without putting excess stress on joints and can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by 31%. Keep in mind that maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle is key to enjoying these benefits, but, the time you spend walking in the call can help contribute to your well-being. If you have the time, consider heading out instead of staying in and shopping online.

3. Can Offset Your Bill with Cash Rebates

Most middle-class Indians like to limit their shopping budget to focus on the essentials such as rent, utilities, food, etc. This responsible mindset is one that’s imposed on us since childhood-think about all those ads on TV about saving money that you watched growing up, or how you had to justify getting something you needed to your parents. However, the money you spend on shopping can help you save on such necessities. There are various credit cards available–both cashback and miles–tailored especially for shopping and offer high rewards for retail spend. If there is something in particular that you’ve had your eyes on, you might as well earn a reimbursement for your purchase that can offset your monthly bill.

"Shopper cards" also come with added advantages, such as big cashbacks with select retailers, restaurant discounts, movie vouchers and 0% interest EMI plans (for you to make big purchases and pay them back over time). Overall, the money that you spend on treating yourself doesn't need to be a source of guilt; it can return value when managed responsibly.

4. Promotes Aspirations & Fosters Responsibility

Shopping fosters personal development. People like to channel their ambitions into the purchases they make–a new skirt for the office, a smoothie maker for healthy breakfasts, maybe sneakers for a morning run. We make such investments to take our first steps towards a goal that we wish to achieve. These items can often positively impact our performance. A study found that consumers performed better on attention-based tasks when they were appropriately 'dressed the part' by wearing a lab coat. This means that we attribute to the things we buy impacts our experiences with them–another way in which shopping has an impact.

Finally, shopping can drive development by nurturing responsibility. People with no credit history, such as most young adults in India can slowly build their credit score by charging purchases to the credit card and then paying the monthly bill in full and on time. With proper parental guidance, such engagement can not only instill a sense of accountability but also promote financial literacy.

Duckju Kang

Duckju is the CEO of ValueChampion. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting, and investing. He previously worked in the financial services industry, including at such hedge funds such as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital.