Health

Feeling Lonely? Step Away From The Mall

New research reveals that shopping is an isolating experience

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When you're sad and blue nothing makes you feel better than a little retail therapy, right? Not so fast. According to a new study called "Bidirectional Dynamics of Materialism and Loneliness: Not Just a Vicious Cycle," published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the opposite is true.

Despite the temporary rush you may experience from buying that new handbag, pair of spiky heels or little black dress, purchasing them (or whatever else floats your boat) essentially enhances the feelings you're trying to avoid.

Here's the deal from the study's author, Rik Pieters; "Valuing material possessions as a measure of success and as a medicine for happiness were associated with increases in loneliness over time, and loneliness in its turn was associated with increases in these subtypes of materialism. Jointly, this forms the vicious side of the materialism-loneliness cycle, which perpetuates once it is formed."

And, as New York Magazine explains, "In addition to taking time and money away from more fulfilling social activities, certain types of materialism can lead to a dangerous kind of self-judgment wherein we value ourselves based on our possessions rather than our relationships (and compare ourselves to others accordingly). That means you'll never truly be able to enjoy that pair of shoes you bought, because someone else will inevitably have nicer ones and make you feel just as pathetic as you did before you bought them (or maybe even worse, because now you're poorer)."

READ: 10 Grocery Shopping Secrets of Slim Women

Does all this mean that you shouldn't hit the shops when you're down in the dumps? Not necessarily -- as long as you realize that the only thing you get from shelling out big bucks for a Chanel bag or a few dollars for a pair PayLess pumps is a new bag and some shoes -- that surely won't serve as some magic tonic to cure all (or anything) that ails you.

So, the next time you're lost and alone and sinking like a stone (thanks Fun.), rather than reaching for your credit card, seek out a friend and take a walk, have a Frappucino or see a movie instead. Your feelings of loneliness -- as well as your bottom line -- will vastly improve.

READ: Quiz: Are You Depressed?

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