“Practicing mindfulness while shopping can significantly affect how much you buy,” says meditation teacher and yoga instructor Kelsey J. Patel. “Learning new ways to check in with yourself prior to checking out at the supermarket counter can save you money and may also help you feel better without all that external stuff,” she says. Easier said than done when you are in the midst of Walmart on a Sunday afternoon with other exhausted parents and bored kids running loose.
Here are four quick questions that will help you stay present the next time you head out for a shopping spree.
1. Do I need this? “Ask yourself if you actually need the item that you are holding,” says Pedram Shojai, Doctor of Oriental Medicine and New York Times-bestselling author. “If so, close your eyes and see where it’ll be in your house in a year,” he says. If you decide it is something that you must have, then check to see if it is available elsewhere for a better price. Taking this time to pause may also help you decide that it isn’t an item that you truly must have.
2. Where is this item from? “The origin of things matter and we should be aware of a good supply chain,” says Shojai. In other words make purchases from companies that consider the planet and the effects their manufacturing has on the environment. “Everything is connected and we should be mindful of that awareness,” says Patel.
3. Why do I need this? Differentiating between what we want and what we need is important. “Food, water, warmth, and shelter are necessities; most other things are just desires,” says Shojai. So be sure sure to ask yourself the next time you are in the shoe store, “Are these red pumps something I really need?”
4. Am I stressed? Just as we eat when we are feeling anxious, many of us shop to deal with anxiety. Instead, check out these healthy ways to relieve anxiety. “Shopping can be a filler when we are feeling unhappy in our careers and relationships,” says Patel. This is a good time to pause and asses your emotions. Work through what might be causing you to feel uncomfortable before using retail therapy as a coping mechanism. Just because you are able to swipe your credit card doesn’t mean you are controlling the bigger issues in your life.