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Recreational Spending --- Or Shopping to Relieve Boredom.

As I have mentioned in another post, I am reading a book by Josie Spinardi entitled How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too.  In this book she mentions that the same psychological issues can manifest in different people as over-eating, over-spending, or other habits like drug and alcohol abuse, or even gambling.
Research on drug, alcohol, and food challenges shows that the number one predictor of relapse is the balance between obligation and pleasure in a person's life - the Have To's and the Want To's.  People whose lives were more evenly split between fun things they genuinely wanted to do, and tasks that were hassles to perform, were far less likely to relapse.  They were more successful in changing their undesired behavior.

In my own life, I often travel for work and spend weekends alone in strange cities.  The temptation is to spend my downtime strolling through a mall or going to restaurants.   This is eating and spending to relieve boredom.  I am often tired from the work week and I want to do something for me, but I am not sure what that should be, so I opt for the easy option of shopping or eating out.

My business partner Brett does not have issues with recreational spending or eating, and I wonder if this is because he is an avid sailor.   Also, like many Australians, he values having a full and balanced life and doesn't believe it is healthy to live a life of all work and no play.

I have worked with people who play golf, basketball or baseball on their weekends.  The rocker Alice Copper has said that he was only able to give up alcohol after replacing drinking with golfing.   I also know people who sew, scrap book, show dogs, ice skate, have cook outs with their families, or read for pleasure.   For me, taking a book or magazine to the beach or even the hotel pool would be a much better option than strolling through the local mall.  On one contract, a coworker and I would go hiking on weekends or walk around downtown after work to talk and get exercise.

Many leisure activities are quite inexpensive.   A book or DVD can even be free if you get it from the local library.  Alternatively, you could volunteer your time for a cause you believe in, for example walk dogs at the local animal shelter or learn construction skills with Habitat for Humanity.  Engaging in pleasurable activities will keep you from spending out of boredom.

In the book, Josie Spinardi says the solution to recreational eating or spending is to sprinkle activities you genuinely can't wait to do throughout your day, week and year.   She says giving ourselves permission to enjoy these things, and seeing the value in balancing pleasure and pursuit is key.    And the benefit is more than just smaller sized clothing or reduced credit card debt, it is having a full and enjoyable life.