Everybody has heard the term “retail therapy,” and most of the time, the term is intended to evoke a smile or a laugh. Sure, people receive a boost in their mood when they buy something they think they will enjoy. There is, however, nothing funny about a full-blown shopping addiction, and the sheer ease of online shopping can make things worse. If you or someone you love is using online shopping to self-medicate for depression, anxiety, or boredom, it can cause tremendous hardships with finances and relationships.
A Modern Problem
For years, people have experienced problems with compulsive shopping in bricks and mortar stores, but problems with online shopping are an issue unique to our digital age. The Internet makes it very easy to spend money. All you need to do is go to your favorite online retailer, add the items you want to your digital shopping cart, then click purchase.
The Lure of Convenience
Many people like the privacy of shopping online and the fact that they don’t need to leave their homes to buy the items they want. Since you’re not spending physical cash when shopping online, it can feel as though you aren’t really spending money at all, and the activity can feed into a craving for instant gratification. Digital retailers save your credit card or debit card information if you request they do so, and having that information readily available makes it easy to spend too much when you get the shopping bug.
What You Can Do
People become addicted to online shopping when they feel compelled to spend more and more time and money on the activity. Compulsive shopping can become a vicious cycle. The more you shop, the guiltier you feel, and the guiltier you feel, the more you want to shop to soothe your troubled emotions. Take heart, though. There are steps you can take to help yourself.
- Don’t store your credit card or debit card information on shopping websites. When you have to buy something online, make yourself enter the information each and every time you shop to make it harder to spend outside your budget.
- Before you click purchase, ask yourself if you really need the item. If you already have ten pairs of shoes, do you really need another pair?
- When you’re feeling the urge to shop, do something else you enjoy, whether reading a good book, enjoying a walk in the sunshine, or playing your favorite musical instrument. If you make a habit of substituting another pleasurable activity for shopping, you’ll teach yourself to rely less on shopping to lift your mood.
- Do everything you can to make it tougher to access your favorite shopping sites. Get rid of your shopping bookmarks in your browser and your shopping apps on your mobile phone. You might want to block access to shopping sites on your desktop computer to help keep yourself from falling prey to the urge.
- Pray every day and call on the Lord for help. You are not alone in your problems. The Lord is beside you, and He wants you to lean on His strength. Remember Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”