Currently there is a lot of bad news out there and many stresses and strains for families, with all of this, it is no wonder that many of us feel less happy. But there are ways to boost your happiness and wellbeing in small ways that will make a difference to you and those around you. We are happy to say that it is linked to shopping local. In fact according to Visa research conducted in 2019, over 70% of us report being happier when we visit our local high streets. But why is that? Turns out there are many psychological studies that help to explain this.
Whilst a lot of what makes us unhappy might be outside our control, price rises, wars or even what happens in our own local neighbourhoods, researchers have shown that nearly half of what causes happiness, is linked to what we do and how we behave.
1. Your mental health matters - Slow down and take things in
In the rush for convenience and general ‘busy-ness’, we sometimes forget that we are human beings, and lose a sense of awareness of what is around us. Taking time out with a stroll down your local high street or stopping for a mooch and feeling ‘present’ in a place, rather than between places is so good for our mental health. It allows us to focus on good things around us, near us and within our reach, rather than things that feel beyond our control. Taking a moment to be mindful about what we have, rather than what we don't have provides a real boost.
2. Activate your brain - supporting local increases your 'feel good'
Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that is triggered by all kinds of things – but one of the key triggers is when we help others. In fact helping others means our brains release oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. We notice that whenever we talk about people spending with local businesses, they say they love to ‘support local’ – so something is happening that is more than shopping. It is a feeling that as well as getting something lovely, you are helping someone in your community fulfil their dream… think of how you feel when you buy a book online, versus buying a book from an independent bookshop. That warm glow… In fact that feeling is why we named ShopAppy…ShopAppy.
3. Physical and mental health can improve when you move
Many lifestyles now are sedentary, more so since the lockdowns where many chose to work hybrid. But movement is good, standing up and walking about. The problem is that when we feel low, we tend to feel less motivated to don our tracksuit and embark on a 10k jog. Shopping locally means you can give yourself an errand to do. 10 million of us live less than 200 metres from a high street, so going out to get a pint of milk, a birthday card, of even a small gift makes us move with a purpose. And of course once we have started that pattern of popping to the shops, you can build up your fitness and confidence. You will feel better for getting fresh air and some exercise… and every little step counts.
4. Experiences are more important than material goods
Retail therapy is a great term… because sometimes going shopping does wonders for your happiness levels, but products don’t often create memories, experiences do. More businesses on our high streets than ever are dedicated to experiences, whether its having a coffee with friends, seeing a movie, playing board games, going on a date, attending a book club or getting your hair done… these meaningful ways to spend time, give you more of a boost than simply spending money on things. But the wonderful thing about shopping local is that pretty much every shop provides experiences too - and frankly there is nothing better than experiencing the passion of someone running their own business sharing tips with you or advising you on what you need. Shopping local is an experience, so go experience it to get happy.
5. Be sociable - Local businesses are our friends
When people say where they shop, it is not unusual for them to say the name of the owner. They shop at John’s rather than the Orange Grove. Sometimes people even forget the shop name – local shops are all about human contact. Most people will talk about businesses as ‘friendly’ and offering ‘personal service’ – it’s all so much more than products. People shop with their friends on the high street, not just businesses. Studies have found that time spent with friends boosts happiness, so get to know your high street, your local network of friends – have a chat and you might be surprised at what you discover not only about your community, but how much better you will feel afterwards.
6. High Streets Can Fuel Happiness
We hope you have found this useful in showing you how a few small changes can have a positive impact on your happiness levels. And the best thing about it all? These actions not only increase your wellbeing, they also help others feel happier too. To discover local shops in your area to plan a trip into town, visit shopappy.com or if you want to know that where you are spending is supporting a local business, try shoplocalonline.org