A recent survey found that 15 million North Americans head to the mall when they’re sad or stressed out. So why does marveling over a pair of leather pumps make you feel better? The secret is dopamine. That’s the word from Dr. Gregory Berns, who’s a neuroscientist at Emory University. He says when something catches your eye, your brain releases the feel-good chemical dopamine, which makes you happy. But before you whip out your credit card, know this: Dr. Berns says it’s not the actual purchase that makes you feel good. It’s the anticipation of getting something new that makes your brain release dopamine. That means you don’t have to buy anything to feel better – you simply need to window shop. So does this mean you should window shop every time you feel sad? Not necessarily. Dr. Berns says shopping – whether you browse or buy – only raises dopamine levels for a little while. In fact, your dopamine levels are usually back to normal once you leave the mall. So what’s the best way to feel better after a bad day? Dr. Berns recommends exercise. Not only does exercise raise dopamine levels longer than a trip to the mall, but if you try something new during your workout – like taking a different running route – you’ll increase dopamine levels even more! Why? Because just like the anticipation of a new sweater raises dopamine levels, so will the anticipation of trying a new running route. So skip the mall and hit the gym the next time you’re stressed. Not only will you resist the urge to spend money, but you’ll burn a few calories in the process.