You might think that retail therapy is materialistic or hedonistic, but a growing body of research shows that shopping can be a positive, healthy activity. Shopping releases mood-lifting endorphins, boosts your immune system, keeps your brain nimble, and even fulfills basic social needs.
One study of older adults in Taiwan found that those who shopped every day were 27 percent less likely to die than those who shopped less frequently, and the benefits weren’t necessarily tied to splurging on fancy products
The researchers think that people who are healthier tend to get out and shop more, helping to keep them physically active and part of a social community. Maintaining a shopping list, as older people are more prone to do than younger adults, is also a good way to sharpen your mental muscle.
Shopping feels good, but now scientists have the brain scans to prove it. They have found that shopping activates the pleasure centers of the brain, those that release the feel-good chemical dopamine. What’s interesting, though is that dopamine tends to surge with the anticipation of experience more than the actual act—which is why window shopping or bargain hunting can be so satisfying.
Online shopping has also proved that it can provide a uniquely healthy “timeout” for your brain. It’s a relatively mindless, relaxing activity. Browsing e-commerce sites during an intense work project can actually improve your ability to focus and make good decisions. Studies show that our unconscious mind continues to work out problems while we’re engaged in a different activity