"After moving down to London, I spent the first three months in an very edgy state and my spending was out of control. When feeling particularly panicked about work one day, I spent £160 of my overdraft on this hideous tan leather jacket with leopard print and bright pink lining from one of the weird leather shops in Camden."
The link between stuff and feelings of overwhelm seem, anecdotally at least, to be strong. For Roisín, a 26 year old health journalist, the experience described above was a typical response to feeling like she had no escape from stressful situations that were provoking a negative spiral. Rather than taking time to reconnect to herself, she got lost in the treadmill of buying to try and feel better.
"I did a similar thing (albeit with less money exchanged) two weeks later," she continues. "I had more stuff, which meant I was more overwhelmed in the small, borrowed space that I was living. And the stuff I had bought in desperation to try and quell panic ended up leaving me more cramped and less able to think clearly about what I wanted and needed. Hundreds of pounds down, I was less able to make the necessary changes to make that happen, too."
In a hyper connected age, in which the onslaught of notifications, advertising and influencers with shiny lives are endless, it's not shocking that we seek solace in the material.
But this stream of stimulation seems to be doing bad things to our brains.
It looks like the modern world's ways – millennials globally check their phones an average of 43 times per day and typically spend 17.8 hours a day with different forms of media, and, as such, are exposed to unprecedented levels of advertising - could be working in conjunction with insecure job prospects, extortionate rent and a broken housing market to contribute to the fact that British young people are some of the world's most stressed and anxious.
(It's important to note here that we're talking about everyday anxious feelings, as opposed to a medical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. If you think you may be suffering with the latter, consult your doctor.)
For Europe's leading Vedic meditation expert, Will Williams, it's clear that this constant stream is messing with us.
"For many years, we've been led to believe that the acquisition of money to buy consumer goods is the ultimate path to happiness," he says. "Everywhere we turn, we are on the receiving end of highly expensive messages in the form of advertising, telling us just that. We get caught in a trap of buying to feel better."
But this "doesn't in any way address our psychological wellbeing, which is the ultimate influence on whether or not we feel happy. Consumerism is a temporary band-aid at best, and often a distraction from that which really needs to be sorted."
It's a view echoed by Joshua Fields Millburn, one half of speaking and writing duo, The Minimalists. He espouses a cleaner way of living that seems to work with this back-to-basics approach.
When in a six figure corporate job and living and spending fast, the death of his mother and breakdown of his marriage in quick succession resulted in a period of re-evaluation. "It dawned that most of the stuff – stuff I had bought to make me happy – wasn't doing its job," he says.
"I had a walk-in closet of clothes which were nice on the hanger, but, on me, fit awkwardly or I didn't like the colour or whatever." Now, Joshua has "maybe 10 or 11 t-shirts, a couple of button down shirts, a couple of pairs of shoes and a suit – but they're all my favourite clothes and I love wearing them." For him, stepping out of the consumer cycle has proved key to leading a life filled with meaning, rather than objects.
"The thrill of buying 'stuff' may be felt initially, but it really ignites a shallow sort of emotional
happiness – without longevity or any deep impact on your psychological wellbeing," Will continues. "Yes, you might feel initial excitement, but, as soon as this novelty wears off, it becomes just another possession, rather than something that contributes to your long-term happiness."
For Will, a Vedic meditation practice can help us redress the balance. " [It can] help to break the regressive patterning that holds us back, and become a more authentic expression of yourself," he says. "And, the more you connect with your truest, deepest self, the less need you will have to try and plug the holes with consumer driven behaviour."
Far from being fringe, this is a way of thinking that seems to be gaining traction. Recent research indicates that seventy seven per cent of adults in the developed world wish for a simpler life.
For Roisín, the key to managing her feelings lays in surrendering the stuff. "I now try and seek some calm, when emails, money worries, social media and city life get too much," she says. "I'll put my phone onto aeroplane mode, breathe and try to walk myself back to feeling okay, rather than thinking I can get a quick fix via handing over my debit card."
There's a lot that's out of our control. But when it comes to dealing, it seems that downtime, not consuming, could be a step to reclaiming a sense of chill.