Seven signs you might be struggling with an online shopping addiction

Now we’re out of lockdown and free to leave the house again, you might have thought this was the end of your online shopping reliance.

But some habits are hard to break.

The ease of clicking, ordering, and eagerly awaiting deliveries may have allowed what started out as a convenience to develop into a full-blown online shopping addiction.

And with actual outside-the-house socialising back on the cards, we now have even more excuses to spend.

So, how can you tell when your online shopping has become a problem?

The experts at Delamere Health share seven signs that you could be struggling with a shopping addiction.

You spend hours a day scrolling through online shops

Take a serious look at your daily screentime, and track which sites and apps are soaking up the bulk of your hours.

In theory, you should only really be going on to a shopping site when you need something specific. If you spend hours ‘just browsing’, but more often than not find yourself buying whatever nice bits you spot, this could be an issue.

You spend more than you can afford

‘This is a common issue for those suffering from an addiction,’ say the team at Delamere. ‘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.’

When your mind is operating on a logical basis, you’ll have a budget and know that you simply can’t go over it. When you have a shopping addiction, that knowledge gets chucked out of the window – you’ll spend money you don’t have just to get a fix.

You don’t feel like you’re in control

Ever feel like you momentarily blacked out and went on a spree? Find yourself feeling clueless about where all your money has gone at the end of the month?

Or is the opposite true – do you feel out of control in all areas of your life, apart from shopping? Does clicking ‘buy’ feel like a moment of peace amid chaos?

A loss of control – whether when you’re online shopping or as a trigger for it – is a sign of addiction.

‘For those with an addiction, repeating the unhealthy action can sometimes feel like the only way they can regain control of their lives,’ explain the experts.

‘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.’

You get an urge to shop when you feel upset or angry

For you, there’s always a reason to spend – and it’s often to deal with difficult emotions.

If online shopping is your first port of call to distract yourself from feeling sad, bored, lonely, or fed up, that could signal you have an addiction.

You feel a genuine ‘high’ when you shop

The Delamere team says: ‘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 number of orders they place, in order to get the ‘highs’ they are craving.’

You buy so much that you have items you’ve never worn or used

Take a peek through your wardrobe. Are there multiple things with tags still on, or that you really question buying?

You stay up late to shop

If your shopping habit is leaving you bleary-eyed and exhausted, that’s a surefire sign that something’s not right.

‘Many people with addiction struggle to switch off,’ the experts say. ‘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.’

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It’s important that if you feel you are struggling with a shopping addiction, you seek proper support. Talk to your GP or therapist to discuss this further and work on treatment.

In the meantime, there are some steps you can take to reduce the urge to shop:

  • Remove shopping apps from your phone
  • Delete your card details from your web browser and each shop’s site
  • Monitor the amount of time you spend scrolling online
  • Understand that it is not the norm to have the same amount of clothes and other possessions as influencers – most of these items will be sent back to brands
  • Try the 48-hour rule. Any time you’re about to buy something online, leave it for 48 hours to see if you still want or need it, or if the urge has gone
  • Give yourself a savings goal to work towards

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