OVERCONSUMPTION IS AFFECTING OUR MENTAL HEALTH

Overconsumption is slowly but surely making our lives more stressful. We all know the buzz we get when we buy new things – but I think we can also all relate to how short-term that burst of happiness is. Unfortunately, the buzz and happy feeling doesn’t last and before long you feel the need to buy something else. This creates a vicious cycle of overconsumption – and hoarding of 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. Given Mental Health is spoken about today with much less taboo – I wanted to highlight why our addiction to buying so many new clothes is actually hurting our self-esteem and confidence, not helping us.

Why overconsumption is bad

Research as far back as the 1800s has found that there is a link between overconsumption 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 on 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.

He found that these people had lower happiness and life satisfaction levels and had more personal illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

Kasser 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 over over-consuming

The thought of changing how you consume products and breaking out of what is likely a lifelong habit can seem daunting. It might feel impossible but trust me, it’s not. 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.

1. Educate yourself before you purchase

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?
  • 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? Consider the price point of something, if it’s really cheap and sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it is cheap, someone, somewhere is paying the price – and no human being should be exploited to make low-cost clothing that we;ll wear a few times before getting bored of it.

2. 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. Look at what you already have.

Life isn’t about how many possessions we own. When we stop shopping we can start appreciating the things we do have. It gives us time to appreciate all the wonderful things and people we already have around us.

If you were to write a list of all of the amazing friends you have, you might be inspired to book an activity and do something together. And if you audited all of your clothes, shoes and accessories, you’d probably realise you have more than you need – and you could spend that money on something more fulfilling – like a holiday.

GET CLARITY ON YOUR SHOPPING HABITS

Unlock the value of your wardrobe and gain insights into your spending and cost per wear.  Get the Wardrobe Worksheets and organise your closet and boost your wellbeing!

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The truth is… no one is going to remember those four cute tops you got on sale last week… So look for the things that really matter in life. Try and utilise more of what you already have. Seek other activities to bring you joy, and swap shopping for something else.

3. Consume less. 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.

SWAP OVERCONSUMPTION FOR CONSCIOUS CONSUMPTION

If you want to shop in line with your values and discover some amazing ethical brands check out my Ethical Brand Directory. It’s a resource I put together back in 2017. It helps me understand the complexities of assessing how ethical and sustainable a brand really is.

Choose Prelove to reduce the demand for overproduction

If you find it hard to stop shopping, swap buying new for buying preloved. It’s a great start. Over time you’ll be able to reduce the amount you buy and then instead of buying lots of new items, you can put all the money together that you would have spent on 5-6 items and put that towards one piece of higher quality.

There are so many great ways to refresh your wardrobe and create new looks without shopping for new pieces. Explore the full potential of your own wardrobe by getting creative and styling looks from what you already own. If you need some styling advice you can always get a friend to help or book a call with a sustainable stylist, like me.

NEED A SECOND OPINION? 

I now offer virtual styling  services. All you need is WiFi and a device with a camera. 

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, and made it less of a taboo to share our struggles, the world would be a better place.

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