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Addicted to online shopping?

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Prior to 2020, for the most part people enjoyed going out to physical shops. However, since the beginning of 2020, that had been difficult to do, which is why I turned to the internet and thus began the journey of online shopping.

I had certainly been online shopping a lot more than I used to. Buying clothes, make up, skincare products, shoes, bags, accessories, and too many more.

Oftentimes when I am browsing on the internet, I am bombarded with advertisements, and in most cases, they are based on my search engine or conversations I have had. This is normally how a lot of advertisers are able to get sales.

The lockdown last year certainly did not help, as everyone around the world found themselves not being able to go anywhere. As a result, the only go-to, in particular for those people who are accustomed to shopping, was online shops.

Having to be cooped up in the house 24 hours a day and not being able to go anywhere, only left with TV shows to binge watch, and getting tired of speaking to the same people every day, the only thing I could turn to was the online community, which is how I turned to online shopping. I started with buying one item a week, to two items, then continued on, and before I knew it, I was completely out of control. Once I realised I had a problem, I decided I needed to get out of this.

It was not easy to get myself out of this habit, but the first step I took was to stop all subscriptions related to shopping online. I ended my Amazon Prime subscription, thinking it would make me think twice about placing any orders, and for a while it did help.

I also started avoiding the option to pay in three monthly instalments, or to pay later, as this was another way for me to buy a bunch of products that I most likely did not need but wanted. It felt like they were free because I was placing them on leeway.

Next thing I worked on was to stop scrolling through my shopping apps whenever I was bored. Every moment I found myself with some free time, I would click on an app and start adding items to my wish list. To stop this behaviour, I had to limit myself to keeping only a few apps, which meant I would spend less time on scrolling overall, however that did not mean I had stopped completely.

After all this, I realised I was still thinking about online shopping; then I thought, the most important factor I had to consider was, why was I doing it?

According to Stanford University’s research, when we see an image of something we would like to buy, a part of our brain associated with the release of dopamine is activated. Shopping gives us a dopamine ‘high’, the same way some drugs do, which is why it can become addictive.

Dopamine plays a significant role in driving our behaviour towards pleasurable goals. It is released whenever we experience something new or exciting. This means that just by looking at something we like online, we almost feel instant satisfaction. Over time, these highs can become addictive.

To overcome this addiction, or the overuse of online shopping, here are some helpful tips to guide you:

  • Before buying something, make a list of pros and cons (this can be a mental list too) to help you in decision making.
  • Find your pattern. Do you find yourself drawn to online shopping after feeling particular emotions? Or after certain events? Understanding yourself is the best way to aid yourself.
  • Consider what you need and what you want. Make a list of both and start prioritising what you should be spending money on first.
  • Give yourself a challenge of not spending any money for ‘x’ amount of time.
  • If you feel that you cannot control yourself, then speak to family, friends or see a therapist about it. Conversing with someone about this may lead you to taking the next step in the direction that you want to go in.

Try these methods and maybe keep a journal, making sure you are up to date with yourself, your feelings, and your financial situation. Whether you are addicted or not, it can be good to track your spending to make sure you are not overdoing it. That doesn’t mean of course that you cannot treat yourself every now and then!

Last but not least, practice self-control. The more you practice it, the stronger it gets.

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