Anxiety, Stress, Worry and Shopping

I write this as I sit in my third hotel room in the past month. I’m not a great traveler…mostly because I overthink packing too much. But this is just a quick weekend trip to Boston to visit the college my middle son will be attending next Fall. We had such a great day together and both felt in love with the city of Boston. The sun was shining , the day was warm, and the streets overflowed with people, vendors, entertainers and the sound of all kinds of music playing in the bars that line the streets.

Of course I immediately noticed the huge Sephora and Ann Taylor stores! Although, a small part of me would have loved to have gone shopping, a bigger part of me just wanted to enjoy sightseeing with my son. So the only thing I bought was a cup of coffee!

The past month has been an emotional roller coaster for me. My Florida trip with my daughter got off to a great start (although the weather wasn’t the best). We had a lot of laughs and memorable mother/daughter quality time! Each year we vacation together for her college Spring break, and I believe even after college is over we will continue with this tradition!

Last year when we went away, I ended up spending a lot of time shopping at the resort boutiques and also online from my hotel room. It was a period of time where my overshopping had digressed off course for a month before I halted myself and regrouped! This year I was on guard to be very mindful of any “vacation” shopping urges I might experience.

Our resort did have several boutiques with some beautiful, unique clothing and accessory items. Each day as we walked passed them, I stared and was tempted to go inside and shop. It was rainy for two days and I could easily have spent some of that time in the boutiques…but I did not. I reminded myself of the previous year and how I had gotten out of control. I reminded myself that I did not need anything right now and how I really wanted to save some money. When I had downtime at night, I did not “peruse” my favorite online retailers, but instead binged on some Amazon Prime Video shows.

When the trip was over and we left, the only thing I had purchased was sunscreen. Once I was away from the resort, the lure of the items displayed in the boutique window had faded, the shopping temptations were relieved and I was filled with a sense of joy and accomplishment.

Next stop was Orlando to watch my oldest son play college ball. Two things happened that week. First, I once again began battling peri-menopausal anxiety (I am on quite the hormone roller coaster). The week was thankfully very busy, so I didn’t have the time to get lost in my anxiety. Staying busy also helped prevent me from turning to shopping as a way to deal with the anxiety (I’ve done that before).

After several days the anxiety subsided, we returned home, and my son returned to campus. Two days later we found out my son had been injured pretty badly and the rest of my week was once again filled with worry (although this time it was warranted). He will not be able to play the rest of his season, but we are all just grateful that he will be ok.

Through all the anxious, stressed, worry filled days, I did not turn to shopping as my relief. I just dealt with the feelings and prayed. I allowed my emotions to exist and did not try to cover them up or ignore them by shopping. For the first time in a long time I did not view shopping as a means to feel better, or a place to run to. It was a difficult few weeks, but I managed to stay afloat without a trip to the mall. There was no time to think about material things…I needed to be there for my family.

Slowly my anxiety retreated…slowly my son will heal.

I learned a lot about myself during this time. My vacation may not have turned out exactly as I had hoped, but that’s okay. The strength I found inside me, the ability to remain calm in crisis, the faith that God is with me, and the reminder that all you really want isn’t found in a store.

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