By Melissa Attanasio, CFP, CDFA, MAFF, Founder & CEO at Abundant Wealth Strategies,
We’ve all done it: spent the afternoon window-shopping or engaging in full-scale retail therapy. Sometimes, a new outfit or accessory can offer the little boost of confidence or indulgence we all need from time to time. Other times, though, retail therapy can subtly shift into mindless consumption—especially in our ultra-connected, over-stimulated culture.
This summer, pause the next time you feel the urge to swipe your credit card, and think: what feeds my soul? Maybe what you’re craving is a deeper connection with yourself that won’t be found through that next purchase. With that in mind, here are five tips for feeding your soul and, in turn, giving your discretionary spending a break this summer.
I know it sounds obvious but sometimes we all forget to slow down—and mindless spending is often a symptom of that. So, to start, take three deep, slow breaths to reset your rhythm. How did it feel? Do you need more? Do you need some fresh air, a walk on the beach, or even just a walk down the street? Incorporate slow breaths into your daily routine and find ways to move your body that doesn’t involve walking through a new store.
Try a structured breathing exercise, try the Stimulating Breath, The 4-7-8 Breath, or Breath Counting; all help you achieve a relaxed, clear state of mind. Or, try a new yoga class. It will bring both movement and stillness into your life, in addition to mindful breathing. It will fill your lungs and your soul. Be open.
Stillness is often missing from modern life. This summer, don’t forget to rest—and I mean truly rest. Be still. In the quietness, find your heart, the beat, the rhythm. Honor it. Give yourself permission to not have a to-do list or fall into old habits of filling days with errands or purchases you decided you needed from the last social media post. Instead, it’s time for a new perspective—one that isn’t so obsessed with consumption. You have the rest of the year for routines. This summer, literally rest and rejuvenate. Even take a nap. The National Sleep Foundation says that taking a short, 20 to 30-minute nap can restore your state of mind and improve your performance. Consider unplugging from your phone or computer. This will slowly shift you to a more present and relaxed mind with no distractions toward nurturing your soul.
Meditation is a great way to slow down and relax, but to also explore a deeper and more meaningful connection with yourself. A connection that will last far beyond this summer. A deep, guided meditation might be just what you need to realize if you’ve become lost in life’s responsibilities. Hemi-Sync guided meditations from the Monroe Institute is a great place to start. According to the Monroe Institute, “this process quickly guides an individual into a targeted, sustained state of awareness, within which s/he is able to apply a unique focus of attention toward achieving his/her desired outcome”.
Step outside, feel the sun setting; the calm, the beauty, and consistency it brings daily. During the next full moon, stand in its glow and see your reflection, your inner beauty. Be still, a reflection of self in its light. Meditation is not just for indoors and is often easier when experiencing nature at the same time. Try a silent, walking meditation and you’ll be amazed at what comes alive to you that you may have mindlessly walked by in the past.
Consider a peaceful meditation and sleep app like CALM, that will have Matthew McConaughey lulling you to sleep. Here, he reads you a bedtime story named “Wonder” which is truly full of magic and wonder! Hint: you’ll be asleep before the end. With stillness and peaceful sleep, you can learn to feel life and be fully present.
Listen to an audio book
Of course, the summer doesn’t have to be all rest and stillness. Have fun! Grow personally. Filling the day without opening your purse or rushing around is simple: plug in your favorite earbuds and get moving while you take in a new perspective with an audio book; especially a book that’s covering some of the soulful topics we’re talking about here.
Listening to an audio book can help slow some of the daily negative thoughts that can fill your mind. According to Psychology Today, they can also captivate the imagination, allowing you to create a whole world within and thus outside your body. Some inspiring summer audio books include White Hot Truth by Danielle LaPorte, for those simple daily truths; The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey to find your path and then enjoy the walk through life; and Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge to discover the radiant you.
Pause. The next time you’re about to embark on some retail therapy ask yourself honestly: do I really need this purchase or am I just filling an emotional void? When you pause and connect with yourself—whether through breathing, rest, meditation, yoga, or engaging in a new audio book—you can explore what you truly need inside. Dare to connect.
The reward will be much greater than a new purchase. Conscious spending keeps your spending policy intact. Honor the bigger financial goals and dreams that do feed your soul, promoting connection to yourself and those that you influence on a daily basis.
This summer, don’t be afraid to mix things up and nurture your soul. There’s nothing shameful about a little retail therapy. But by taking a step back and consuming more mindfully, you can learn a lot about what feeds you, what doesn’t, and what will help you grow. More importantly, you’ll be able to cut down on discretionary spending that doesn’t do either of those things—which is good for your soul and your savings.
Take some time to simply be with yourself. If you don’t, you may miss connecting with the most important person in your life.
Be conscious – financially and otherwise. Create Abundance!