There are lots of ways to relieve stress, and it seems whipping out your wallet is among them — not to pay for a visit to your shrink, but to go shopping.

New research has proven that what’s been jokingly called “retail therapy” is in fact very real.

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University did a study which found that after a stressful experience that challenged participants’ self-image, “retail therapy” was a common coping mechanism used as a distraction to forget about the whole thing.

Not only that, some people shopped in the anticipation of a stressful event — but the items they bought then were situation-specific. For example, before a high school reunion, a woman might splurge on expensive jewelry to ward off the perception that she’s been unsuccessful in life.

Just remember to shop within your means — you don’t want to add even more stress to your life when those credit card bills roll in. And really, who cares what that dork from your sophomore math class thinks about you anyway?

[LiveScience]