Q: Do you have any tips to help with contentment during the whole three-months-no-shopping thing?
A: Definitely. The first time I ever tried to do this, I was astonished at how quickly the shine wore off and I was desperate to go shopping. Like, it was the next day. But why? With shopping out of the picture–and with a little digging–I eventually found my answer…and contentment. Here’s how:
Sometimes I would use shopping as a way to jolt myself out of a meh mood with a little instant gratification. Not the worst thing in the world, right? Well…no…but it hit me pretty hard when I realized I wasn’t shopping for clothes–I was shopping for happiness.
No wonder my closet didn’t make any sense.
It messed with my mind when I realized that, you know? I really don’t want to be a person who finds her happiness in stuff. So I got introspective and asked myself, “Where do I want to find my happiness?” And the answer sure wasn’t a pair of jeans.
PLAY WITH YOUR HAIR & MAKEUP INSTEAD
Other times, I’d want to go shopping to feel prettier. So instead of shopping, I’d try to teach myself a new hairstyle or a new makeup trick instead. It was a skill I’d been wanting to work on anyway. I mean, it’s kind of in the same vein as clothes–wanting to look good and express yourself and all that. It was free, fun, and I learned how to do a Pinterest-worthy messy braid.
Side note: You could swap out hair & makeup for a billion other much cooler skills. Developing a skill takes work, time, and perseverance. It’s not easy. But. It pays off.
I think shopping is so tempting because you just swipe a card and gain something. It’s relatively easy. But when you learn a skill, you’re gaining something that can’t be bought. You can’t just swipe a card and suddenly have a skill. That’s cool.
Marketers are smart cookies. Brilliant cookies, actually. I can’t tell you how many times an email would convince me that I needed to go hit up that sale rightnow. So I decided if this was going to work, I was going to have to unsubscribe from all the clothing email lists I was on.
Yes, I missed news about fun sales. But I stopped caring. Contentment just felt better.
PAY ATTENTION TO HOW MUCH YOU’RE SAVING
When I wanted to go shopping, it was usually because I wanted a specific item, like a new drapey top, or another pair of jeans or a different jacket. I know about how much those things cost, so I started paying attention to how much I was saving.
Saying no to one shopping trip saved me pocketfuls of cash. Multiply that times the number of times I wanted to go shopping (multiple times a week). You do the math. I know.
I started getting so proud of the money I wasn’t spending, you know? I started wondering what good things–helpful things, generous things, random-act-of-kindness things–I could do with that money instead. For our family. For my husband. For friends. For complete strangers. It got inspiring real fast and encouraged me to keep not spending money on clothes.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS
So, back in the day when I struggled with anxiety, one of the things I’d do to help combat it was write out some instructions for myself when I felt an anxiety attack coming on. Because if you’ve struggled with anxiety, you know that once an attack comes on, you aren’t thinking clearly.
So this list (housed on my phone, so it was always available) was an external voice, giving me step by step instructions to stop the downward spiral. It had simple things on it, like: Stop what you’re doing right now, step outside, and take 10 deep breaths. Or: Text two friends and tell them a specific thing you appreciate about them.
I used this approach to help calm shopping urges too. My list included productive, fun alternatives to shopping like: Surprise a friend with some coffee and flowers. Or: Try to make 3 new outfits from items you already own. Or: Go make out with your husband. ;)
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Those are my 5 main strategies to cultivate contentment + deal with the three-months-no-shopping part of this challenge. Want to add to this list? Comment below–I’m sure we’d all love to hear more ideas!