"WHY are you so late? How can it take you so long to get home?" my husband asks when I arrive back from work.

"And, of course, you're in a bad mood again," he will add, as I struggle in with my bags, effing and blinding, eyes red and face lined.

As usual that day, I'd been up at the crack of dawn, tried to cram too much in at work, organised my time appallingly and eaten lunch in a hurry.

But I always know exactly why I am late and harassed, and it had nothing to do with the office -- it's all down to shopping.

On the days I work, I usually stop at a couple, sometimes three, supermarkets on the way home. It's a rare time when I'm child-free and can do a decent shop at a time (6pm to 7pm) when few people are around.

If I am tired before, I am completely shattered afterwards, desperate for peace and quiet, a squashy sofa and a stiff alcoholic drink. When I get home I find none of these things, only boisterous children and a screaming husband. So I end up the wife/mother from hell.

"I've been shopping," I will tell my husband, but he never buys it as an excuse for either lateness or a bad mood.

Now, though, I have evidence -- scientific proof that shopping can be bad for your health, that it can cause your blood pressure to rocket.

In a study, researchers found that, on average, blood pressure rises by 8.5 per cent when a shopper enters a store and doesn't drop to normal until they are past the checkout. Scientists discovered this after offering free blood tests to randomly selected shoppers at three Asda stores before they started shopping and afterwards.

After my extended shop, it's not surprising that I arrive home in a state. I always feel stressed after shopping and -- because I used to love the experience -- cannot understand why.

However, I'm not alone in feeling this way. The findings have come hot on the heels of revelations that shopping trips for pleasure may soon be a thing of the past. Shopping is fast losing its appeal and so-called "retail therapy" is being replaced by holidays and eating out.

Nowadays, I believe, shopping is as far removed from a leisure activity -- as it has traditionally been labelled -- as possible. Supermarkets, in particular, are gigantic. If goods have been moved it takes light years to find them again, there's too much choice, queues at the till and trolleys to load, unload, load again and unload into your car (if you can find it). It's a nightmare. And with permanently ravenous children

to feed, you're rarely out of the place.

Shopping for clothes is not much fun either. I don't know whether it's my shape or the shape of the clothes I want to try on, but things never look right. All that taking off and putting on, craning your neck in tiny changing rooms to see how you look from the back. Queuing at the till and worrying that what you've bought isn't right. Dreadful.

My husband is actually allergic to clothing stores and is preparing to spend winter without a coat simply because he refuses to enter one.

It's a vicious circle -- we have to shop to live, yet shopping is bad for us. I'm due a trip to Tesco tonight and I'm already twitching with anxiety. It brings a new meaning to the phrase Shop 'til you Drop.