Saturday, January 26, 2019

Life with Chronic Conditions: Staying Tidy/Alternatives to Retail therapy

Several years ago,  I wrote a post The KonMari Method for Tidying When Affected by a Chronic Condition that generated a lot of interest. With the arrival of the Neflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” the popularity of de cluttering by only keeping what “sparks joy” is making headlines. This time it’s because so many people are doing it charity shops and landfills are overwhelmed with the amount of stuff people are dropping off. In short, it’s gone from a cluttering problem to a “waste crisis.”

Because her initial book came out in 2014, there are millions of people who have and continue to use some aspect or all of it. There is a lot to be said for her method of tidying and getting rid of clutter. If you’ve haven’t tried it, read The KonMari Method for Tidying When Affected by a Chronic Condition

However, our buy, buy, buy economy combined with get rid of it if it doesn’t “spark joy” is creating a perfect storm for waste haulers. Yet, there is another Japanese tradition-mottainai-the interdependence and impermanence of things-which we should be aware of along with KonMari

Mottainai follows the four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and respect. It attempts to communicate the inherent value in a thing and encourage using objects fully or all the way to the end of their lifespan. It is an ancient Buddhist philosophy deeply rooted in Japanese Culture for centuries, to have respect and not to waste the resources and to use them with a sense of gratitude.

While Konmari appears to incorporate some of these ideas, one has to wonder at the giant bags sitting outside the homes of the Netflix series that have undergone the “spark joy” purge.

The big “miss” of KonMari is that  many find “retail therapy” a  release from life’s anxieties and stressors. They also use it as a way to reward themselves as well as celebrate when good things happen. Very often it’s a social opportunity, with shopping combined with lunch or dinner at a special restaurant or cafe.

Research shows that shopping gives people a “sense of control,” which many of those affected by chronic conditions feel like they don’t have much of. It’s also been found to reduce sadness, and there is also the added bonus of walking and getting exercise if you go to the mall or a big box store.

The down sides of retail therapy are obvious-financial issues; creating more clutter in your home; and ultimately a waste crisis-the landfills are already full.  However, there are ways to turn this around, which is the focus of today’s post.

Tips to help you control your “retail therapy” so you don’t end up amassing “stuff.” Yes you can still indulge in a favorite past time but with some clear guidelines:
• Set a budget and don’t waver. Your better off leaving credit cards at home and only using cash.
• Know your “spending triggers” What moods or things will tempt you to make unplanned purchases? Recognizing them can help reduce their power over you to make unnecessary purchases.
• Follow the 48 hour rule. Before you drop a “want” into your shopping cart, write down the item and price and give yourself 48 hours to think about it.
• Remove spending and coupon apps from your phone and unsubscribe to Emails that will encourage you to spend.
  If you are shopping in a store, don’t give them your e-mail address or agree to a credit card
• Window Shopping can improve moods. Try shopping with a friend where you design a wardrobe, a room in someone’s house etc. Make it a game. Set parameters such as how much money can be spent, what colors can be used, etc.
• Make reminder lists-use your smart phone to create various lists such as-groceries; items you may need from a specific store; gifts-when you learn about items that you think are right for someone add the item along with their name. Only shop from your list.
• Before you make a purchase think about how you will dispose of the item when you are through with it.
• Shop thrift stores over retail, though stick to the needs vs the wants.

Alternatives to Retail Therapy: Shopping provides opportunities for choice, exercising, and socializing. Yet, there are a number of things to do instead that offer the same benefit resulting in your feeling better as well as reducing waste.
• Repair rather than discard. With sites like IFIXIT  (electronics); the Family Handyman and 8 websites to find DIY & Home Repair Tips  learn how to repair items that you may have normally discarded. Do it long enough and you can start helping friends and maybe even turn it into a small business that you can run from home.

• Create a local swap group. You can do this via Facebook or with friends.

• Host an abundance swap. These can be a great deal of fun, particularly if you do this around the holidays when people are looking for gifts and don’t have money to spend. Every year our town holds a town wide tag sale and we have one village green that is designated as a freebie zone.  Check out the Ashland Abundance Swap that has been held every year since 2004.

• Look for, start or host a “fix it clinic.” Basically these clinics will teach you repair skills. At Fix-It Clinics, people small household appliances, clothing, electronics, mobile devices and more and receive free guided assistance from volunteers with repair skills to disassemble, troubleshoot and fix their items. Check out the Fixit Clinic Facebook page.

Shop online, put items in the cart but don’t buy. According to research, the actual act of putting items in a cart and not buying produced the same sadness reducing effects as actually purchasing something. So, it’s not the actual purchase which produces the results, but the selection of items as if you were going to buy them that reduces sadness.

• Go to the library and pick out a book. You have a sense of control over what you choosing but without spending anything.

• Focus on the part of your social circle that don’t use retail therapy. Yes it is fun to go shopping with a friend, where you have lunch or dinner as part of the experience. However, if you are having a rough patch make a social engagement with a friend(s) that isn’t necessarily tied in with the retail therapy scene.

• What alternatives are there in your community to celebrate good news or combat a negative experience? Some options could include inviting friends over for a bonfire; tea; dinner and a movie; game night; or a walk in the park. Check the newspapers and on-line resources for local events that offer entertainment alternatives. You’ll meet new people that way that share a common interest.

• instead of walking the mall, go for a walk in your neighborhood, a park, by the beach etc.

• Join an exercise, Qigong, or yoga class

• Attend in person support groups that pertain to your particular chronic condition

 Ultimately,  if you don’t need it, don’t bring it into your home or, if it’s a gift, don’t allow it to settle in if you don't like it. 

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