Shopping has always given me an instant burst of joy. I love clothes and have often felt like a new item in my wardrobe could unleash another side of me. A cooler version, perhaps. Or a version of me with an endless amount of confidence, sass and happiness. But of course, clothes don’t hold this power. It comes from your own mentality.

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Although I’ve always preached the idea that wearing a great outfit can help improve your self-esteem, that’s really all about it can achieve. It can’t completely transform your mental state. But, nevertheless, I have turned to shopping many times in the past for an emotional pick-me-up.

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I noticed my shopping habit first becoming excessive when I was studying for my journalism diploma. I had just sat an awful exam which I already knew I had failed. I felt stupid, angry and disappointed with myself. As well as this, I felt panicked. I knew I would have to resit the test, but ‘what if I fail again?’ This idea was too much to comprehend. So, I went where I knew would bring me instant relief, Topshop.

I raced over to there as soon as the exam invigilator released us and once I had seen the familiar colourful window displays, I felt calm, almost like I was home. I brushed my hands across the clothes I definitely couldn’t afford, tried on outfits I felt would make me happier. And bought something. I can’t even remember what it was, but at the time it felt like it could change everything.

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When I starting earning a living, this became a regular occurrence. If I felt stressed, frustrated, or pressured I would run to the shops on my lunch break and return to work with bags in my hands and a grin from ear to ear. I couldn’t wait to wear my new outfit and when I did, I felt like I could take on the world.

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But then, something stressful would happen at work and I couldn’t rely on my snazzy new pair of boots to get me through it. My confidence wavered. Soon enough, I would have to do it again. And again. It suddenly became very clear that I couldn’t rely on shopping anymore to keep my head above water.

It took me a while to not depend on buying clothes to cheer myself up. But after a while I decided to make some necessary changes to improve my mental well-being (which I discussed further here), instead of covering up any negativity with temporary fixes.

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Although I shop a lot less now, it is a hard habit to break. I don’t shop to improve my mood anymore but I do struggle to just treat myself to one thing. Instead I often go through phases of buying lots of new things and then nothing for months. But I’m getting there. Now I often shop my own wardrobe to recreate new outfits, and sometimes look to Ebay for second-hand items. And instead of buying heaps of fast-fashion, I try to invest in more long-lasting items.

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