Online Shopping: A Passion or an Addiction?

I was never a shopaholic, which may sound ironic judging from the title of this article. However, the ease and comfort of online shopping has turned me into one. I can shop whenever I want, wherever I want and get the item delivered to my doorstep – so convenient! So much so that this passion for online shopping is now developing into an addiction. I find myself scrolling down online shops and adding things to my cart at least more than ten times a day, every day. I probably spend more time on shopping sites than I do on Instagram or Netflix – sound like an addiction yet? 

There has been much debate about whether online shopping is a mental health condition or not, and it is still not fully recognized. Many psychotherapists have argued for the recognition of online shopping as a mental disorder, as ‘Buying shopping disorder’ was always recognized but it has taken on a new definition in the age of the internet. [1] Online shops run 24 hours a day without requiring the customer to actually physically carry something down the street. The entire concept of ordering something online, receiving it in a parcel and unboxing it gives me an adrenaline rush. Research has suggested that ‘people who feed off immediate gratification are drawn to online shopping. The quick satisfaction feeds into the cycle of cravings and rewards.’ [2] 

According to research, BSD in the form of online shopping can ‘cause a loop of extreme cravings for buying things and satisfaction when spending money.’ [1] Don’t know about you but I can most definitely relate to this. This often results in ‘a breakdown in self-control, ‘extreme distress’ and other psychiatric problems.’ [1] I have often found myself under extreme distress due to the inability to buy things online because I spent most of my pay on things I bought online. It’s almost a vicious cycle – I see things that are appealing, order things online (that I most definitely do not need) and end up nearly broke by the end of every month. 

At times, I have almost felt like a hoarder because I have a huge amount of things that I do not need. Naturally, the more difficult part is actually admitting that this passion is bordering an addiction, but once you have acknowledged that, you realize how detrimental this step is for you. In my experience, it then becomes slightly easier to suppress the urge to constantly visit online shops and order things. 

Here’s a few things that have worked for me:

Blocking all online shops – There are numerous free apps that block websites. One of these is ‘StayFocused’, which allows you to block specific websites for specific times including entire genres of websites. This has at least allowed me to remain focused and not wander off.

Declutter – Decluttering helped me realize how much stuff I actually have. When you see that you have already got more than what you need and rearrange those things, it seems almost nonsensical to buy more things. Additionally, getting rid of unwanted things helped me feel better and I much rather prefer having some empty space in my room.

Wait and save for what matters! – Previously, I would often rush online purchases due to the fear that the items might go out of stock. However, I have come to realize that waiting for sales and getting clothes, cosmetics, and other miscellaneous items at a cheaper price is rather relieving. (At least I do not find myself worrying about spending too much) But that definitely does not mean that I am purchasing the same amount of things during sales as well. I have tried to become more mindful of what I am buying online. Before purchasing anything, I ask myself, if it is a practical purchase, will I really use the item? How often would I use it? Could I spend the money elsewhere in a better way? I try to ensure that whatever I am buying would be actually useful to me and not end up being stacked in the corner of my room. Lastly, save money for other things – this can be literally anything. For instance; travel. You would find it much more rewarding than getting just another pair of jeans. 

On a concluding note, I do not intend to scare anyone with this article. If anything this could serve as a warning for those of you who have been shopping online extensively. It is best you start limiting your online purchases now before this love for shopping escalates far out of your control and starts affecting your mental health and well-being.






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