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When it comes to feeling a little under the weather, lonely, sad, or just plain bored, there is something about shopping that can make us feel just a little bit better. Whether you’re taking a stroll down a store aisle or browsing your favorite online retailer on your phone, using shopping as a pick me up, isn’t doing your bank account any favors. While you may feel temporarily better, you’ll likely feel guilty about your purchases later. Save yourself the guilt and check out these alternatives to retail therapy below.

Go for a walk

Next time you feel like picking up your phone and spending your hard-earned money, put down your phone and go for a walk instead. If you’re feeling a little melancholy, there’s no better mood booster than the great outdoors. Going for a short walk can give you fresh air, Vitamin D, and some time to reflect. You can also pop in your favorite music, an audiobook or a podcast while you stroll. The best part about walking is that it’s free.


Exercise can be a great mood booster. You’ll feel great about yourself after a workout of any kind. When you exercise, your body also releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins can trigger positive feelings in our bodies. These natural mood enhancers are good for your body as well as your mind. After a nice workout, you’ll be much less inclined to drown out your sorrows on your credit card. You can even exercise for free by running or walking outdoors, swimming at a public beach, or doing a free fitness video online. Even just stretching at home can take your mind off of things.

Make a donation

If you absolutely feel compelled to spend money when you’re feeling blue, spend it on a good cause. By donating money to someone in need, you’ll feel a lot better about spending money than you would if you bought a pair of shoes or a useless trinket. Next time you’re feeling a little down, take some time to look into some charities or causes you’ve been wanting to learn more about. You could also donate your time if you aren’t able to contribute financially. Volunteering won’t cost you anything but it can make a big difference in someone else’s life.

Cook a meal

Cooking and enjoying a meal is another great way to take your mind off of things. From looking up new recipes to buying the ingredients, enjoying a home-cooked meal will give you a great sense of accomplishment. While it’s not helpful to comfort eat unhealthy takeout, making a healthy home-cooked meal will be a nice distraction. After you conquer a new recipe, you’ll feel ready to take on the world. Call some friends over for your meal and you’ll have people to enjoy it with and talk to. Some time with friends over a nice meal may be just the comfort you needed.

Call a friend or loved one

If you’re having a rough day at work or you’re going through a hard time, talking with someone you love will make you feel a lot better than overdrawing your bank account. Usually, if you’re not feeling well, talking with a friend or family member is just what you need to get you back on track. The best part about catching up with a loved one is that unlike with a new shirt, a loved one will talk back to you. You can take some time and vent about what has been bothering you and get some unsolicited advice from the people who know you best. Chances are, you’ll also share some laughs and they can help you take your mind off of your worries.