The term “shopaholism” may seem a bit of an exaggeration, but professionals point out that it is a real, everyday problem in their practices. A person can be said to be a shopaholic when they spend so much time, energy, and money shopping, or even thinking about shopping, that it seriously damages their life. Does this happen to you? If so, please read on.
In addition to financial problems, shopping addiction, as a disease, has emotional consequences: guilt, shame, or anxiety after the shopping spree. It can also damage your relationships, creating friction with friends and family. It can even damage your professional life. And because many people don’t realize how addictive shopping can be, it is much easier to become addicted. Moreover, this shopping addiction has become much more prevalent as online shopping has become easier and easier.
Table of Contents
- Shopaholism Definition
- When shopping becomes a disease
- The reasons behind shopping addictions
- Signs that your shopping addiction is a problem
- The shopaholic profile
- How to overcome a shopping addiction
- 1.- Unsubscribe from all online store mailings
- 2.- Avoid spending the afternoon at the mall
- 3.- Avoid online shopping
- 4.- Tidy up your closet
- 5.- Change your environment
- 6.- Destroy your credit cards
- 7.- Control expenses and your bank accounts and set a budget with a maximum to spend and do not exceed it
- 8.- Make a list of the things you want to buy and stick to it
- 9.- Try to find out what pushes you to buy
- 10.- Learn to control your impulses
- 11.- Determine your priorities
- Treating compulsive shopping
According to Lexico.com…
Shopaholism is the state or fact of being an excessive or compulsive shopper.
When shopping becomes a disease
It is clear that it is one thing to give in to temptation and buy things you do not need or give in to whims, and another to enter into a dynamic of conflict that becomes unhealthy. The pathology begins when the impulse overcomes the control mechanisms and unnecessary products are constantly acquired or more money is spent than planned. When the person becomes aware of what he/she has done and realizes that he/she has lost control, he/she often suffers a feeling of guilt that affects his/her security and self-esteem. This then leads to a subsequent need to satiate the anxiety provoked, which leads to buying again, which in the end becomes a vicious circle.
The reasons behind shopping addictions
Like an addiction to alcohol, smoking, or gambling, shopaholics get hooked on the quick way to feel good. Shopping actually stimulates feel-good brain chemicals. And, for shopaholics, compulsive shopping can be an avoidance mechanism to postpone certain steps in their life, such as quitting their job, leaving their spouse, or curing psychological disorders such as agoraphobia or anxiety.
Specialists explain how our brain works: “We have a series of emotional needs and when they are not met by natural means, we substitute them. Drugs, alcohol, food, and shopping are some of the possible replacements for what really makes us feel safe and loved. In the face of frustration, one way to get pleasure quickly is to go shopping. The addicted person compensates in an unconscious way the emotional emptiness with the things he/she acquires, making up for his/her affective or emotional deficiencies with material objects”.
Other addicts use shopping as a way to feel more like their ideal selves. It bridges the gap between who we are and who we want to be seen as. We see the acquisition of material goods as a central goal in life: an indicator of success and a path to happiness. In reality, of course, shopping often takes us further away from our goals.
It all comes down to insecurity. People are trying to fill a void from other aspects of their life, such as their romantic relationship, work, or trauma. If your partner doesn’t make you feel loved, if your career doesn’t feel too important, or if you’re too afraid of facing a mental disorder, you can turn to something else, like the lure of Amazon.
Signs that your shopping addiction is a problem
First, look at whether shopping is causing conflict in your life: Are creditors harassing you? Is it a source of arguments with your partner? Have you borrowed money from friends because of your shopping addiction? Are you falling behind at work because shopping takes up so much of your time?
You should also consider the extent to which shopping has consumed your life. Many of us have bouts of excessive shopping. But if it has become very important in your life and you think and talk about it all the time, you have a problem.
Your emotional response to spending is another factor. If finding a good deal, either online or in a local market, brings you intense pleasure, that’s a warning sign. And on the other hand, investigate whether you suffer from withdrawal if you feel restless and irritable if you don’t get a chance to check out your online deals, for example.
While it is true that compulsive shopping and normal shopping are not easily distinguishable from an external point of view, it is common to have some of the following symptoms:
- Having high levels of anxiety or stress when you visit a shopping mall or other locations where you may shop.
- Experiencing impulses to buy that you find irresistible, and at the same time, alien and confusing.
- Having recurrent worries about shopping that interfere with your personal life and affect your well-being.
- Perceiving a desire to resist but not being able to restrain yourself from shopping.
- Feeling relieved and satisfied after making the purchase, but guilty afterward.
- Frequently buying items you don’t need and in larger quantities than what is considered normal.
The shopaholic profile
Statistics show that the prototype is a woman between 30 and 50 years old, with an affective deficit. But we must take into account the greater impetus that young people have compared to adults, which is also accompanied by a greater lack of self-control or economic responsibility.
To all this must be added the fact that society itself is immersed in exaggerated consumerism that instills the belief that happiness is achieved by spending.
How to overcome a shopping addiction
Why don’t we cut to the chase? You want to solve your shopping addiction. So I leave you with the eight best strategies you can use to combat your shopping addiction:
1.- Unsubscribe from all online store mailings
If you’re tempted to spend money every time an email from a store appears in your inbox, it’s time to click “unsubscribe”.
If you really want to overcome a shopping addiction, you must unsubscribe from all stores. Don’t make exceptions.
Also, try not to pay special attention to the advertising of products offered on different platforms (TV, banners, magazines, newspapers, etc.).
2.- Avoid spending the afternoon at the mall
This goes without saying. But if you find yourself hanging out at the mall just to spend time, then it’s time to find other activities to do. Here are some alternative activities you might enjoy:
- Take a walk in a park
- Go for a bike ride
- Attend a free event
- Visit a museum on free days
- Relaxing on the beach
- Watch a comedy show on TV
- Having a board game night or movie marathon with friends
If you have no choice but to go to one of these centers, it is best that you go accompanied by someone who knows your problem and can help you control your impulses. Naturally, do not go into the company of those people with whom you used to shop compulsively, as they could be an inciting agent and aggravate the situation even more.
3.- Avoid online shopping
E-commerce works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is always open to the public. It is a real danger for shopaholics.
When surfing the Internet, stick to looking for the information you need, and the time strictly necessary. Don’t get carried away by advertising banners that take you to online stores. Make it your goal not to buy anything online.
4.- Tidy up your closet
If you love to shop, chances are your closet is full of items you no longer wear or things you’ve even forgotten about.
We tend to feel like our wardrobe is never good enough because our clothes don’t align with our values.
By getting rid of items you no longer wear, need, or love, you have the opportunity to feel good about the items you choose to keep.
5.- Change your environment
Your environment can play a very important role in your life. Whether it’s your friends, your co-workers, your workplace, or the neighborhood you live in, your environment can influence your behavior.
While we can’t always choose our ideal environment, we have the power to control some aspects of our environment. For example, it doesn’t make sense for an alcoholic to eat in a bar, does it? That’s why it’s not advisable to walk for hours and hours around the nearest mall with your friend who loves to shop if you’re really trying to kick your shopping habits.
6.- Destroy your credit cards
It may sound too radical, but if you have a problem with compulsive spending, destroy your credit cards now. Don’t make excuses. Don’t write down account numbers somewhere “just in case. If credit cards feed your emotional spending, it’s better not to have them. (You can always get new cards once you’ve learned better habits.)
Carry cash only. Is it too inconvenient? Totally, but that’s why it makes sense to do it this way. If you’re a compulsive spender, your goal is to break the habit. To do this, you must make sacrifices. Spending cash is a way to remind yourself that you’re spending real money.
7.- Control expenses and your bank accounts and set a budget with a maximum to spend and do not exceed it
Keeping an exhaustive control of all your monthly expenses guarantees that your finances are under control, that your disbursements do not skyrocket, nor exceed your income, on any occasion.
8.- Make a list of the things you want to buy and stick to it
Write down on a piece of paper the items you strictly need and when you go to the supermarket do not buy anything that is not on the list. It may be hard to stick to it at first, but if you do, your wallet will thank you. At the end of the year, a lot of money is wasted on stupid things.
9.- Try to find out what pushes you to buy
What drives you to shop? Although the habits of a shopaholic may seem irrational, they are not. Those with a shopping addiction believe they are completely rational and are shopping for a reason, usually to fulfill a need.
It is not easy to self-analyze ourselves and sometimes we need professional assistance. However, understanding the psychological need that drives your need to shop can help you overcome your addiction.
10.- Learn to control your impulses
It is important to recognize and learn to manage your impulse buying. I recommend keeping a journal and documenting when you feel compelled or eager to shop.
Is it due to boredom, sadness, or anger? Do you feel the urge to shop after watching a particular TV show? Do you want to shop after going out with a certain friend or family member?
Recognizing what triggers make you buy can help you learn how to manage these triggers. You need to realize that it is key to become aware of your emotions in order to manage them correctly.
11.- Determine your priorities
You might be surprised to learn that most of us don’t know our values or understand what is important to us. Instead, we usually focus on what our society and media impose on us. Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it?
It’s important to identify your values because when your actions and values are aligned, that’s when you feel happiest. Ultimately, you have to find meaning in your life.
Not sure what your personal values are? To start generating ideas, think back over your life and determine when you felt truly happy and proud of yourself.
Treating compulsive shopping
As we have mentioned before and as it happens with the rest of addictions, the first step to be able to fight and treat compulsive shopping is to recognize that you have a problem. The help of a professional specialized in the field is essential to overcome this dependency. However, it is also essential that your decision to face this problem is firm, as well as the collaboration of the people closest to you.
It is very important to treat this problem properly, as it can lead to other addictions and psychological disorders of various kinds. Remember also that any type of addiction is very detrimental to both your well-being and your health.
We want you to understand that these are some tips. Our last, and perhaps the most important recommendation is that you ask for help from a professional as soon as you detect that you have a shopping addiction problem. Visit your trusted psychologist for treatment, he/she will help you overcome your addiction. Remember that you can do anything, you just have to put your mind to it.