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Holidays and Shopping Addiction: Useful Tips You Need to Know

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Shopping AddictionIn the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, many people can’t resist the lure of online sales or in-store bargains.  For some people, it’s all about finding the perfect gift for someone.  But, for others, it’s all about shopping, getting discounts, and feeling the ‘rush’.  They can’t control it and often feel guilty afterward.  This is known as shopping addiction, and millions of people struggle with it year-round. 

If you have problems controlling your spending, especially during the holidays, you can take steps to avoid the overwhelming desire to buy things despite whether you think you need them.

What Is Shopping Addiction?

Shopping addiction (oniomania) is a behavioral addiction and it can disrupt a person’s life in many ways.  Studies suggest that about 6% of Americans struggle with compulsive shopping disorder.  

You may not realize you have a shopping addiction until you suffer adverse consequences besides finding yourself financially drained.  Some of the ways shopping addiction can affect your life are:

  • Financial problems
  • Strained relationships
  • Feelings of shame or guilt

If your compulsive shopping behavior has caused any of these problems, you may need to consider professional treatment.  Although shopping addiction is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it does have several characteristics in common with other addictions.  In the same way that compulsive drinkers drink to escape feelings of depression, boredom, anger, loneliness, and anxiety, compulsive shoppers shop as a way to escape these emotions.

Typically, treatment for behavioral addictions includes a comprehensive approach such as counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy.  The goal is to help you understand the root causes of your behavior and develop healthy coping mechanisms to effectively handle triggers.

Do You Have a Shopping Addiction?

Compulsive shopping can stem from several factors that are not always easy to identify.  For instance, mood and anxiety disorders and substance use often co-occur with shopping addiction.  Individuals with personality characteristics such as loneliness and low self-esteem often have problems controlling their shopping.  

It’s normal to enjoy shopping for gifts for loved ones, especially this time of year.  But, if you find that it’s increasingly hard to control your shopping, you may have a shopping addiction.  Here are some of the signs to watch for:

  • Shopping Addiction 2Preoccupied with or having obsessive thoughts about shopping
  • Experiencing euphoria when shopping, followed by guilt or regret
  • Lying about purchases or hiding them
  • Shopping to make yourself feel better
  • Neglecting responsibilities so you can shop
  • Buying items that are not needed or used

Of course, the signs do not mean you have a shopping addiction.  It’s important to know the difference between impulsive shopping and compulsive shopping.  However, compulsive behaviors can develop into behavioral addictions over time.  Because of this, you should be aware of your reasons, habits, feelings, and motivations when it comes to shopping.

Tips to Prevent Overspending During the Holidays

Retailers make it difficult to resist their discounts and sales during the holidays.  They’ve spent years and tons of money honing their advertising skills.  The convenience of online shopping also makes it easy for you to spend your hard-earned money.  So, how can you keep your holiday spending under control?  Here are a few useful tips:

>  Set Realistic Limits

If you don’t have an idea about what you plan to buy, it will be easy to overspend.  Before you begin shopping, make a list of who you’re buying for and what you want to purchase for that person.  Also, set a budget and use it to decide how much to spend on each person on your list.  Try to resist using money that you would use to pay bills.  You may also want to avoid using cash advances or charging the gifts to your credit card.  Odds are you’ll still be trying to pay it off when the holidays roll around next year.

>  Trim Your Gift List

This won’t be easy to do.  Scratching someone off your gift list seems unfair.  One way to make it easier is to limit your list to five people outside of your immediate family.  If you have to remove someone from the list, bake some cookies for them.

>  Give “Group” Gifts

If some of the friends or family on your list have children, give a gift that is suitable for the entire family rather than giving individual gifts.  A movie DVD or a gift card for their favorite restaurant are good options.

>  Make Homemade or Personalized Gifts 

This type of gifting requires advance planning but is worth the effort.  Everyone enjoys receiving a unique, handmade gift.  It’s a great way to show someone you put time and effort into creating something you thought they’d enjoy.  

>  Give the Gift of Time

It’s easy to find ways to give of your time.  For instance, offer to mow the lawn or grocery shop for an elderly friend or family member.  Or, for someone with small children, offer to babysit occasionally.  You can also host a dinner party for some of the people who were removed from your gift list.  

>  Become More Frugal

You can find many ways to curb your spending habits.  First, try to avoid using credit cards for holiday shopping.  Next, collect and use coupons.  The savings can add up, especially if you have a long gift list.  Also, for every dollar you spend on gifts, remove one dollar from your regular spending.  Add this money to a holiday fund to be used next year.

Holiday debt can take a toll on your finances in the upcoming year, so don’t let yourself get caught up in the hype perpetrated by advertising.  The joy of giving doesn’t mean you must buy the most popular or most lavish gifts.  It means giving a gift that conveys your feelings. You can make someone feel appreciated with even the smallest gift.

Treatment for Shopping Addiction at Design for Change

Compulsive behaviors are often impossible to break without professional intervention.  Individuals who struggle with gambling, shopping, food, sex, or exercise addictions often require some form of therapy.  

At Design for Change Recovery, we help people overcome shopping addiction with a personalized treatment plan.  We utilize various evidence-based practices to encompass the physical, psychological, and spiritual factors that fuel a person’s compulsive behaviors.

If you think your compulsive shopping behavior is out of control, contact us today.  One of our treatment advisors will be available to answer your questions and recommend a treatment path that aligns with your situation.  

Sources: – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR)

Holidays and Shopping Addiction: Useful Tips You Need to Know