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Squishmallows, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Coping: At Least It’s Not Drugs

“Well, at least it’s not drugs”

It’s a phrase I’ve heard – and said – many times: when going shopping for Squishmallows with a friend, when my dad comes home from the grocery store with packages of chocolate chip cookies, when my mom orders more craft supplies from Amazon.

Coping is defined as “conscious or unconscious strategies used to reduce unpleasant emotions.” Sometimes we, as humans, have our own ways of coping with a bad day, our own addictions. While everyone wants to have healthy coping mechanisms, it is not easy to turn away from the instant gratification of the coping mechanisms we come up with for ourselves. Mine is online window shopping – and occasionally buying – stuffed animals that are meant for children (but sold by adults for ridiculous prices) on the internet. I know without a doubt that buying and eventually receiving a Squishmallow is going to make me happy after a hard day, even if it is only a temporary distraction.

Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can certainly make you feel a little bit better, and expert therapists agree. A study by the University of Michigan reveals the numerous healthy benefits of “retail therapy,” one of the most common coping mechanisms. Being able to make a personal choice in how we deal with our emotions, whether that is retail therapy or something else, gives us a sense of personal control over the environment and circumstances we are in. The anger and anxiety associated with negative situations and the lack of control we have in these scenarios can be significantly diminished by giving ourselves control and choices in unrelated situations. Retail therapy is in fact a healthy coping mechanism in moderation, despite the pang of guilt one may feel after the fact.

By finding our own outlets we are finding what can be a healthy coping mechanism for us and our own personal challenges, in moderation of course. The mental preparation that goes into what helps us cope allows us to focus on one specific thing and distract ourselves from the stressful situations of our lives. While it is important to recognize when your coping mechanism may be leaning towards the unhealthy side, we do not have to turn away from our personal coping mechanisms when developing more widely recognized healthy coping skills. Feeling like we have control over our environment and having something to focus on makes a big difference when our lives feel out of control.

So, if buying that Squishmallow or eating that chocolate chip cookie will make your bad day a little bit better, go for it and don’t feel guilty. You deserve it.



Emma Prushan

Jefferson '25

Emma is a first year student at Jefferson studying Visual Communications Design/Graphic Design. In her free time, she enjoys reading, binging series, doing crafts, playing the guitar, and having opportunities to be creative in general! She also has two pet guinea pigs at home and one is named after Benedict Cumberbatch.
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