I have not been able to do my usual self-care rituals throughout this pandemic. My fortnightly massages are out of the table. Travel is out — I can’t even take a short road trip to Tagaytay because that would require lining up for a police clearance to get a “travel pass” out of Manila. And though I can technically go to the mall and eat out nowadays, the added stress of having to fill out contact tracing forms plus wearing a face mask AND a face shield just takes away from the decompression effect that simply going out used to have.
So I’ve turned to shopping to entertain myself. After all, I have some savings from canceled travel plans, so I might as well use it to improve my situation a bit.
When the malls reopened, the first thing I bought was a tablet. During ECQ I had been watching Netflix and reading my e-books on the small screen of my Samsung S10e smartphone. I wanted to improve my experience with more screen real-estate and high-quality speakers, so I bought the Samsung Tab S5e — with its 10.5 inch AMOLED screen and AKG-tuned, Dolby Atmos enhanced quad speakers. It did not disappoint. Watching Netflix, V-Live, and CuriosityStream feels like a theater experience now, especially if I have my tablet directly in front of me while propped up on a pillow. And reading e-books and browsing are just a better experience with a bigger screen. I liked it so much that weeks later I bought its higher-end brother the Samsung Tab S6, which has an S-pen for note-taking or drawing or to use as a remote control of sorts. The mid-range S5e can be my “travel” tablet for when I start traveling again.
Before the pandemic I only used to buy clothes once or twice a year. For my time at home I bought differently designed cotton and dry-fit singlets to make my stay more comfortable. I wasn’t really a sando type of guy but being cooped up for so long, my skin was begging to breathe.
Speaking of comfortable, I also bought a foot massager and back massager combo from Ogawa. I figured getting a massage from a human did not look to be a viable option at least in the next year, so I might as well get a machine to do it for me in the meantime. For the price of a mid-range cellphone, I got the “shiatsu” back massager and “reflexology” foot massager, and I can tell you they’re worth the price. I felt the knots in my back melt away the first time the back massager kneaded and rolled over my back. And the foot massager made me feel like I was floating as it squeezed and poked my soles.
I also decided to spoil my beagle Bolin a bit. I bought him vitamin supplements, chewing treats, a dog bed, some nice smelling dog shampoo, and a new leash.
My old transparent phone case raised its proverbial hands in defeat after months of abuse during the ECQ, so I bought three new, cute ones from Lazada, which are due to arrive any day now.
To make my work-from-home and thesis-writing more pleasant, I also bought a laptop stand with adjustable height and limited tilt. Topping it all off is a prepaid wifi router as back-up for when our postpaid internet connection fails us. This is the Philippines. That kind of thing happens a lot.
Socks. I also had nine pairs of socks delivered from Uniqlo via the Uniqlo mobile app. I mean, you can’t have too many socks, right? Right?
I did not use to be an online shopping kind of guy, but I’m finding it fun now during the pandemic. I tried Shopee, Lazada, Zalora, and the Uniqlo mobile apps for the first time and I’m amazed at how many options there are for my needs and how prompt the delivery can be. It’s oddly liberating not having to deal with the middlemen like the sales attendants in malls whose knowledge about the products and whose level of helpfulness varies as much as the weather.
Has my newfound love for shopping been good for my well-being? I think so. At least I feel emotionally satisfied, especially when I actually get to use the things that I buy and they actually improve my situation, which is close to 100 percent of the time.
There’s a 2019 study linking “sustainable consumption” with well-being, stating that well-being benefits can also be achieved via real-life or online shopping. So I guess I’m not alone in that regard. The key word here, of course, is “sustainable.” My shopping sprees so far have been funded by my extra savings. I don’t take out loans or go in blind and hope for the best when it comes to payments. I set a realistic monthly limit for myself and make sure to self-regulate when it comes to expenses.
So you know what, if you have the extra dough and good self-regulation, I say go for it. Buy that new phone, tablet, TV and video game console. Improve your home with new rugs, wallpapers, furnishings or whatever. Get that massager. Treat yourself to that comfortable reclining chair or plush mattress. Have those new shirts, socks, and slippers delivered from Uniqlo or H&M. In the shit show that 2020 has been so far, you need it. You deserve it. It’s good for you. #TreatYoself
Guillen-Royo, M. (2019). Sustainable consumption and wellbeing: Does on-line shopping matter?. Journal of Cleaner Production, 229, 1112-1124.