Why it could also be beneficial to consume more hedonistically when we are stressed

How is it, although we are otherwise so self-disciplined and sensible, that we increasingly eat snacks, go shopping, watch series or consume social media when we are feeling stressed? Anna Balleyer, research assistant in the Department of Psychology at Media University Berlin, has been studying the effects of consumption on the human psyche since her master's thesis. In a new study, she examined to what extent hedonistic consumption can also help reduce stress.

[Translate to englisch:] Stress can lead to increased consumption of sweets. (Photo: Quang Nguyen Vinh/Pexels)

Stress can lead to increased consumption of sweets. (Photo: Quang Nguyen Vinh/Pexels)

It is certainly an intuitive truth that hedonistic consumption - that is, pleasure-driven consumption - can benefit emotional regulation and well-being. However, the remaining question so far has been whether the emotional benefits and enjoyment of hedonistic consumption always have to come at the expense of sanity, or whether it can make sense to indulge in "missteps" such as indulging in sweets or watching one's favorite TV series, especially after stressful phases.

In her new study on this topic, Anna Balleyer shows that hedonistic consumption does not always come at the expense of reason: For in fact, it seems, hedonistic and pleasurable consumption does not lead to less reasonable action after stressful periods than more neutral types of consumption. Moreover, under stress, people who otherwise act more rationally even under regular conditions tend to consume hedonistically more than impulsive people.

Both results thus suggest that hedonistic missteps during stressful phases are not necessarily missteps at all. Rather, it could mean that it can be sensible to indulge in something after stressful phases, since stress apparently means that enjoyment does not come at the expense of sanity. So especially when stressed, you should also plan some time and space for well-being, so that you can then start again more refreshed. So does that mean we should consume hedonistically after a stressful time? Yes, but of course moderately.