Concerned you might have an online shopping addiction? Here, our health experts have shared the signs and symptoms of those suffering from a compulsive shopping addiction.
Compulsive shopping is thriving across Britain during the pandemic as the conditions in lockdown are ripe for addiction to escalate. It was recently reported that ‘UK online shopping sales rose by 48 per cent to nearly £113billion in 2020, up from £76.1billion the year before, with people turning to online shopping during the pandemic to help ‘relieve stress’.
But is using online shopping as a coping mechanism for stress, a healthy habit?
We’ve spoken to the health experts at Delamere to help provide advice on how we can spot signs of shopping addiction – and what we can do to reduce our online shopping habits if we sense them becoming an issue.
Am I a shopping addict? – Here are seven signs of shopping addiction – and five tips to help to curb your craving
1. Spending hours a day scrolling through online shops/apps
Apps have made it all the more simple to access a worldwide wardrobe immediately at our fingertips. As great as this can be for retailers and those always on the go, for those struggling with shopping addiction, this can be extremely detrimental as it has never been easier to feed your shopping habit at the touch of a button.
2. Spending more than you can afford
This is a common issue for those suffering from an addiction. An addiction can lead to a feeling of lack of control – and this can include the amount we spend. Much like gambling addiction, shopping addiction can have a hugely negative impact on our finances.
Many may find themselves dipping into their savings, remortgaging homes and even in some cases borrowing or stealing from partners/family or friends to fund their addiction. If you find that you can relate to this and feel overwhelmed about what to do next, please do reach out for professional help and do not feel afraid of being judged.
3. Feeling a loss of control
For those with an addiction, repeating the unhealthy action can sometimes feel like the only way they can regain control of their lives. As we know, it is hard to step out of this unhealthy cycle.
With shopping addiction, placing an order is the only way some people may feel like they can feel in control for a brief period of time. It is important to try to remember that this feeling of control will fade again and breaking a cycle like this is important for our mental health.
4. The urge to shop when you feel upset or angry
If you find you have the urge to shop more when you are going through periods of feeling upset or angry, this may be a sign of a shopping addiction. Again this is a form of trying to gain back control or take your mind off the topic that has upset or angered you.
For any ongoing depressive moods or mood swings, we would always recommend seeking advice from your healthcare provider – or alternatively from mental health services who will be able to give you advice on how best to tackle these feelings in a healthier way.
5. Euphoric type rushes
Do you ever get a feeling of exhilaration and/or anxiety whenever you place an order? We have all got excited now and again about an order – but if shopping gives you an intense rush (as if you have just been on a rollercoaster) every time, then this may be a sign of addiction.
Euphoric rushes are caused by surges of the brain chemical dopamine. Much like a drug addiction, the brain will produce less dopamine each time as it gets used to the activity. However, the body then craves the exhilarating feeling and therefore people can feel like they need to increase the amount they spend, or the number of orders they place, in order to get the ‘highs’ they are craving.
6. Buying so much that you own many items never worn or used
If you find many items you have bought still have their labels on them, it may be time to think about how much you are shopping.
We are all guilty of having items in our wardrobe we swore we were going to wear on the right occasion. However, if there is more than a few items in your wardrobe or in storage that you have not seen or touched since buying them then consider this before buying anything else.
7. Shopping in bed when you should be asleep
Many people with addiction struggle to switch off. At night, those with an online shopping addiction can find themselves unable to sleep and reaching for their phones, and specifically their shopping apps, for comfort.
Those with an online shopping addiction may find themselves more prone to shop on an evening or when they’re in bed with nothing else to do or concentrate on. If you do relate to this then many can find that doing calm exercises, e.g. yoga, before bed can help relax the body. We would also recommend turning off your phone or leaving it in another room for the night so you are less tempted to reach for it.
Further tips from the experts to curb the urge
- Take your shopping apps off of your phones main home screen, or remove them from your phone completely
- Monitor the amount of time you spend scrolling for clothes and other items
- Understand it is not the norm to have the same amount of clothes as influencers – most of these clothes/items get sent back to the brands
- If you need some motivation to shop less, remember the fewer items we buy, the better for the environment. Consider donating items you haven’t used or worn to charity, or donating the money you would otherwise spend towards a charity to offset your carbon footprint (e.g. The Woodland Trust or Carbon Neutral Britain)
- Most importantly, if you feel you are struggling with a shopping addiction, do not play this down. Do reach out to friends and loved ones who may be able to help – and make sure to reach out to mental health professionals. Shopping addiction generally masks underlying issues of stress that may manifest into another addiction if you do not shop.