When a friend of mine got laid off, she told me she was resorting to retail therapy to make herself feel better. Turns out, that shopping when you're down can make you feel better. A recent study by Northwestern University found that retail therapy actually works, and if you do it before a stressful event, it can even help to insulate you from the negative effects.
Although I'm all for indulging in activities to boost your mood, retail therapy is definitely a pricey way to do it. And it might make you feel worse in the long run if your shopping expedition makes a dent in your bank account. Here are some wallet-friendly ways to turn around a bad day:
- Start planning a trip. Make a plan to take some days off and start researching destination ideas. Research has shown that planning and anticipating a trip has an even greater effect on happiness than the actual trip itself.
- Make yourself a happy meal. No, you don't have to re-create an artery-clogging meal from McDonald's. A happy meal is basically comfort food you can make at home that will help you feel better. Perhaps it's a childhood favorite like Oreos and milk or maybe a secret family recipe.
- Set a goal and accomplish it. Set a small and reasonable goal and complete it before the end of the night. It can be simple tasks like washing the dishes or finishing up two chapters of a mystery novel. You'll feel better when you're getting things done.
- Do something nice for someone. Doing a nice act for someone can make you feel better, studies have shown. They can be small acts like sending an email to your best friend telling her how much you appreciate her, or making dinner for your partner. Here's a list of ideas for nice things to do for people.
- Remember the good. Write out a gratitude list of things that you're grateful for. Noting down a list of things that you are grateful for can renew your appreciation in things that you've been taking for granted. Writing a gratitude list will cause you to put more focus on the positive and less on the negative.
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- Remind yourself that this is temporary. I really love the mantra "This too shall pass" because it reminds us that everything — including positive and negative events — is temporary. In a few days, weeks, or years, you will probably get over it. All that matters is knowing that there is a day you will move on and to not invest so much energy in thinking about an event that's temporary.
- Sleep early. Sometimes all you can do after a stressful event is to give it time and sleep on it. Head to bed early tonight so that you'll wake up well rested and ready to tackle the next day with gusto. Not getting enough sleep can cause you to be more cranky and sensitive, so you should definitely get a full night's rest after a bad day.
- SOS a friend. Tell your friend you need an emergency hangout to get your mind off of things. Having someone else around can get you out of the negative rut. It's always nice to have an understanding ear and someone to distract you.
- Animal therapy. Animal therapy will beat retail therapy any day. Many studies have shown that owning a pet is related to lower rates of depression and blood pressure. If you don't have a pet, perhaps play with a neighbor's furry friend or visit a shelter to coo over the cute puppies.
- Meditate. Close your eyes, take a few breaths, and mentally release all that is bothering you. Meditation will give your brain a break from the stress and it will maybe even help you put things into perspective and help you realize that your situation isn't so dire after all.
- Exercise. As we all know, exercise produces endorphins, chemicals that make you feel good. Go to the gym and play your favorite workout songs and get a good workout. You'll be feeling better in no time.
- Watch a comedy. Laughter is the best medicine and watching a funny movie, TV show, or YouTube video can distract you from the negative events in your life.