We all know how buying new things gives us a short term burst of happiness. However, unfortunately, it’s a blast that doesn’t last and before long you feel the need to buy something else. This creates a vicious cycle of consumerism and stuff that many of us (including myself in the past) fall victim to.
As damaging as this cycle is for our bank accounts it can be just as damaging to our mental health. In honour of World Mental Health Day today this is something I wanted to highlight.
Research as far back as the 1800’s has found that there is a link between over consumption and poor mental well-being. In 1899 the American economist Veblen found that people were ‘living on treadmills of wealth accumulation, competing incessantly with others but rarely increasing their own well-being.’ This observation is still extremely relevant to our society and how we live our lives today.
Modern research tells a very similar story. Tim Kasser is an acclaimed psychologist, known for his work into materialism and well-being. Kasser observes that there is a connection between an excessively materialistic outlook and increased levels of anxiety and depression.
Kasser found that when people prioritised materialistic goals in their lives they tended to have poor personal well-being. Kasser found that these people had lower happiness and life satisfaction levels and had more personal illnesses such as anxiety and depression. He also observed that they behaved differently socially. They were more manipulative and competitive towards the people in their lives, and lacked empathy.
HOW TO PUT AN END TO THE CYCLE
The thought of changing how you consume products and breaking out of what is likely a lifelong habit can seem daunting and next to impossible but trust me, it’s not. If you follow these three easy steps you will be well on your way to a more conscious and mentally healthy lifestyle… not to mention saving yourself money.
Know what you are consuming before it consumes you. Before you buy, ask yourself what am I buying?, who made it?, what is it made from?, and what is the true cost of this item? Do you think if you knew the truth behind your Boohoo haul it would still give you that happy buzz?
Reassess where you get your happiness from.
If you’re relying on the quick fix of consumption to give you happiness and that feeling of fulfilment, it can be hard to stop. It can be almost like you’re addicted. Reassess where you get your happiness from, start by recognising what you have in life, not just possessions but the wonderful people you have around you and all the amazing experiences you have. The truth is… in the end no one is going to remember those four cute tops you got on sale so look for the things that really matter in life.
When you do buy, buy well.
No one is saying you should never shop again. Of course not, just become more aware of what you are buying. There is no harm in feeling good about a purchase when that purchase is actually doing good.
When you buy good quality, ethical products rather than cheap, fast fashion you’re not only doing good for the planet you’re also buying items that are going to last and won’t need replacing next season. If you want to discover some amazing ethical brands that you can trust check out my Ethical Brand Directory. I hope you found this helpful and feel inspired to change how you consume, even if it’s just a little. Remember, look after your mental health! It’s just as important as your physical health, and never feel afraid to reach out if you are struggling. We all have our problems and if we talked about them more the world would be a better place.