Why Drugstore Shopping Is Like Therapy for Me

Some people get stress relief from spas or tropical getaways. I find it in the hair care or vitamin aisle.

There’s a place I visit to relax and escape the pressures of life. It’s always bright and inviting there, and everyone knows my name. It is called CVS. OK, I exaggerate; not every staffer knows me. But Crystal at the register does. “Hi, Ellen! How are you today?” “Great!” I chirp. “Nice to be back!” And I mean it. Most of my friends enjoy some form of shopping therapy— Target therapy, Trader Joe’s therapy, and, of course, shoe store therapy. But drugstores are my happy place.

The thrill of the hunt

For the record: I have a life. And it’s a hectic one in which family and work needs often come ahead of my own. These jaunts are found me time. (Nobody in my family is ever excited to come with me on, say, a dental floss run.) I’ll check out nail polishes or explore the wondrous gadgets in the “As Seen on TV” section. There’s always the joy of the find: Ooh, gel cushions that make high heels more comfortable! While scientists have yet to do a study on Walgreens addiction, research points to certain personality types who are more prone to shopping till they drop. Extroverts may buy to express their individuality, and anxious types to self-soothe. I fall in the middle, making me a semi-neurotic extrovert who gets entirely too excited by bonus CVS bucks.

Order, restored

This all started after my first child went through a trauma at birth. I’d go to get diapers and stay to avoid the scary reality of a sick baby. The drugstore was everything my life wasn’t: neat, orderly, and in control. Once, I started crying while I was there. (Woman losing it in aisle 5!) “Are you OK, miss?” an employee asked. “Not right now, but I will be,” I said, and as I spoke the words, I started to believe it would be true. These days roaming the aisles especially appeals when I’m bordering on burnout. I see the promise: More energy in the vitamin aisle! Silkier hair in the conditioner section! So when it’s 9:15 p.m. and I need a break, you know where to find me.

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