Compulsive acquisition is a problem for those with hoarding tendencies. Collecting or buying is often a coping mechanism to soothe feelings of anxiety or discomfort. It’s a way to nurture themselves.
Have you heard the term “retail therapy”? Even people who don’t compulsively acquire feel a little better after some retail therapy. But “retail therapy” is a misnomer.
It may be soothing, in the short term, to tour a shopping centre, admiring the pretty displays, letting your mind drift while listening to the soundtrack of relaxing instrumental music, in the perfect climate-controlled atmosphere designed to help you part with your money. Everything sparkles and there’s the pleasant welcome delivered by well-groomed and highly-trained sales assistants. Even better when it’s sale time and you get the rush of hunting down a bargain.
But outside, in the real world, there are bills overdue. There are shelves and cupboards and rooms stuffed full. Uncomfortable feelings quickly return when confronted with the realities and limitations of everyday life.
Self-care is important. So how do you nurture yourself without acquiring more stuff?
Here’s a starter list of 30 ways to feel good that don’t involve bringing more stuff into the home.
- Take a bubble bath
- Cuddle a pet
- Phone a friend
- Sing in a choir
- Take a walk
- Go for a hike
- Ride a bike
- Visit the library and borrow a book
- Volunteer in a soup kitchen
- Get a massage
- Visit a museum or art gallery
- Dance to your favourite music
- Listen to a podcast
- Learn a new skill
- Teach someone a new skill
- Laugh at a funny cat video
- Photograph nature
- Practice yoga
- Work in the garden
- Restart an unfinished project
- Do your nails
- Put on a face mask
- Pour a cup of your favourite tea
- Binge on Netflix
- Say hello to a neighbour
How do you nurture yourself?
It may be helpful to keep a list of your own nurturing preferences handy for when anxiety or unhappiness show up in the form of a desire to acquire.
The moment you recognise the trigger to compulsively acquire, tune into what you really need instead. Fill the gap with something useful, rather than turning to the unhelpful habit of getting more stuff.
Feeling lonely? Phone a friend.
Feeling worn out? Run a bath.
Feeling ugly? Do your nails.
What will work for you?