By Ameera S.
Life can be exhausting sometimes. There are days where I feel like ripping out my hair or laying in bed all day, refusing to see the sun. Battling negative mental health can feel like you’ll never win, but it’s important to have an outlet to express overwhelming feelings. When I am at my lowest, I rely on thrifting to uplift me. Being in a second-hand store’s environment is a euphoric feeling. As I walk into the Goodwill, the smell of mold and grime smacks me in the face. Most people would automatically turn around and never come back, but for me, I feel at home. The dim lights and racks of cheap vintage draw me in. There is no place I would rather be than arms deep in blue bins filled with clothing. Retail therapy brings me and many others happiness, and I bet it can help you too.
If you have ever felt as though shopping has brought you joy, that’s because dopamine is released from the moment you walk into the store. According to Dr. Bea of the Cleveland Health Clinic, “the anticipation of the eventual possibility of a reward or treat releases dopamine- the hormone neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel good.” Personally, when I walk down the aisles of clothing that look straight out of the book Wacky Wednesday, my spirits lift, and my mood shifts. The thought of picking out the perfect article of clothing for the following week’s outfit is the reward my brain wonderfully associates with shopping. Running down aisles of grandma sweaters or sifting through piles of vintage Levi’s makes me feel like a superhero. Reading price tags that say “$3.00” and thinking about how proud I am to shop efficiently fuels me with an immense amount of cheerfulness. My dopamine levels surge and my mood switches from lethargic to joyous.
Shopping in person is not the only retail I enjoy. The internet provides us with many apps and websites filled with sellers located all around the world with clothes for sale. Depop, Poshmark, the Instagram store tab, thredUP, Thrifted.com, and Etsy are my personal favorite online shopping sites I use to purchase second-hand clothing. I have many thrifting apps conveniently at my fingertips. Every time I open my phone, the red square with a black “D,” for Depop, tempts me. I know that every time I open the app, I could spend hours looking for cheap “Golf Wang” or “Dickies.” As I open up Snapchat, my friends’ thrift hauls are tempting me more and more to double back and open the app for just five minutes. I’m not even safe on Instagram. While I tap through Instagram stories, I get an advertisement saying, “Do you love thrifting?! Depop is a great app with thousands of sellers and thousands of products waiting to be purchased!! Swipe up and download the app now!!” I mean, who can resist that? Thousands of sellers, thousands of cheap vintage pieces?! I’ll tell you who can’t: ME! The bed I’m lying in absorbs me more and more as I refuse to acknowledge the world, and allow my new best friend to become the app. The search bar becomes my companion, and setting my price to “$5 clothing only” becomes a hobby of mine. The longer my screen glows in my dark, depressing room, the happier I become. My joy increases every time I add an article of clothing to the cart. At the start of my online thrifting addiction, I thought I was just another shallow teenager with careless spending habits. However, Dr. Bea claims that online shopping is “an exciting mental journey.” Therefore, I’m not shallow, but I do in fact have careless spending habits. Online shopping is equally psychologically therapeutic as thrifting in person. Shopping is a great way to relieve stress and treat yourself to feelings of relief, happiness, and peace. Thrifting is my safety blanket, and I recommend everyone give it a try – unless your style is grandma sweaters, in which case back off, those are mine!
Pietrangelo, Ann. “Dopamine Effects on the Body, plus Drug and Hormone Interactions.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 5 Nov. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/dopamine-effects#how-it-makes-you-feel.
Team, Family Health. “Why Retail ‘Therapy’ Makes You Feel Happier.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 21 Jan. 2021, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/retail-therapy-shopping-compulsion/.
Krupnick, Ellie. “Study: Shopping Can Actually Reduce Your Sadness.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 28 Jan. 2014, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/shopping-make-you-happy_n_4679516.