As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a stress shopper. More specifically, I’m an online stress shopper.
When I’m especially stressed about something, I can’t resist going on an online shopping quest, whether it’s a compact-yet-effective drain snake, a cotton caftan or a vintage Amelia Earhart brand carry-on (and yes, these are all actual recent online shopping searches). It’s fine when I just browse, but sometimes when I come across something I just can’t pass up — say, the aforementioned luggage — I can’t help but make a purchase.
Why we do it
It’s not just me: shopping while stressed or anxious is pretty common. According to a 2013 survey, nearly one-in-three people turns to retail therapy to deal with stress. In addition, a study published in 2001 looked into how and why shopping is used as a coping mechanism for stress, while research from 2013 found that it can help reduce sadness and restore a sense of control.
Try this instead
But stress shopping can get really expensive really quickly, so I turned to my other go-to stress activity: planning hypothetical trips that I may or may not ever take. This makes sense give that it’s a literal escape. And despite the problematic aspects of Airbnb, it’s still my favourite way to visit a new place and pretend like I’m living there — like trying on another life for a weekend.
My stress-busting browsing of Airbnb started a few years ago when I was planning my dream trip to Prince Edward Island. I’d spend hours clicking through listings, trying to find the perfect Anne Shirley-inspired getaway. Eventually I found it in the form of a one-room schoolhouse from the 1850s that was converted into a home. But even after I booked it, I couldn’t help but continue to scroll through the site looking at other PEI properties.
Soon, I had seen them all (it’s a small island), so I moved on to browsing places to stay in upstate New York for a quick weekend trip that I had no actual plans of taking. Now, clicking “save” on Airbnb listings has become the equivalent of clicking “buy now” on Amazon Prime, but somehow even more satisfying.
I’ve even booked and stayed in some of these Airbnb properties, though most simply remain on my lists of favourites. It’s now my go-to anxiety activity — and much friendlier on my bank account.