Therapy Digest 17
The Truth About Christmas Shopping Panic Attacks
Christmas shopping tends not to be for yourself but for other people. This makes it more stressful than ordinary shopping as its easy to get caught up with over thinking and feeling anxious about other peoples judgements or their expectations. Trying to juggle a Christmas shopping budget while wanting to buy something spectacular for a friend or relative is an almost impossible conundrum.
Most people with heavy work schedules don’t have much choice but to shop when the stores are heaving with other people all intent on getting their Christmas shopping done too. Try shopping at independent stores in your local area or even the neighbourhood Christmas Fair as an alternative to battling the city centre crowds.
On-line shopping is of course always an option but because the shopping experience is so unfulfilling and disassociated from reality its easy with one click shopping to forget you’re spending your hard earned money and overspend which can then fuel more anxiety.
If you do experience anxiety and need to shop at busy times, then go as early in the day as you can or preferably go with a friend so you can support each other amid the chaos. Also, wear layers of clothes as there is nothing worse than being stuck in a queue in an over-heated department store with a big winter coat and scarf making you so hot you feel at risk of fainting or passing out.
If you do start to have a panic attack in a busy shop just put your shopping basket down and head for the exit. Get outside and breathe deeply and slowly. What happens when you’re in a panic is that your breathing becomes more shallow so focus on regulating your breath and that will help you to feel grounded and less panicky.
Give yourself time and if you’re able to resume your shopping then do so.
Equally, if you need to go home, then you should do just that. You might think you’re the only person who has to abandon their shopping but being triggered in an over-crowded store is pretty common so give yourself a break and leave out any harsh judgments you might be making about yourself. It’s tough out there.
If you are struggling with panic attacks and social anxiety it doesn’t have to be this way. Click on the link on this page to book an obligation free discovery call and chat to me about what’s happening for you. Remember if you’ve tried everything and nothing works then therapy could be just the thing you’re looking for to transform how you think and feel about yourself.
The Secret Challenge of Christmas Gifts
Christmas is a complex, emotionally loaded mix of romanticised mythology and pragmatic reality with the giving and receiving of gifts at the core of most peoples’ secular festivities. It’s not as though we don’t know Christmas is coming and yet some of us still leave gift shopping until the last minute.
So, why is that?
Christmas shopping is not as simple as ticking people off from an annual obligation list. If it were people would just shop efficiently with time to spare even during the manic seasonal run-up.
Instead, the would-be gift-shopper procrastinates. Frozen into inactivity by anxiety around the purchases they plan to make and how their gifts will be viewed and judged by the recipients.
At its simplest, a gift is an expression of attention, love and affection in an age where people are struggling more and more with the pressures to achieve anything like a healthy work-life balance. Plus current economic uncertainty increases financial stress, and many people are nowadays so time-poor that it’s almost impossible to sustain care for themselves let alone caring for others.
So the gift is left to say it all and, ideally, it has to speak volumes. It has to be profound and eloquent, and provide evidence of all of the subtlest feelings inarticulately stumbled over or even omitted during the previous twelve months.
Plus gifts have to come in on budget and be most likely given to people who probably don’t actually need any more ‘things’ in their life. So, no wonder we all panic and leave Christmas shopping right until the last minute.
And it’s not as if the presents we finally choose are terrible. It’s just that the portent of the gift – the significance we have imbued it with can rarely if ever, be fully realised – however beautifully wrapped it is.
If you are struggling to make a connection with the people who count in your life or feeling side-lined and unable to express yourself fully then use the link on this page to book an obligation free discovery call with me so that we can have a conversation about how your relationships can flow more smoothly for you.
Shopping Addiction: Warning Signs To Watch Out For
Before there was online shopping some people had a problem with over-spending on the High Street so there has always been something about shopping that can feel compelling for some people.
For most though, who enjoy shopping, they experience a pleasurable boost to their mood when they purchase something they really like.
However, when those emotions become heightened or exaggerated then shopping takes on an entirely different, more compulsive nature which is a sign that shopping is becoming something of a problem. It is equally an issue if purchases are made in a zoned out or disassociated state as that is not balanced behaviour either and again should be viewed as a warning sign.
The rise of e-commerce sites and online auction houses have made spending money online not just commonplace but potentially worryingly compulsive.
While shopping online, consumers can get caught up in the illusion that they are not really spending actual money. A credit card gets debited, often from pre-saved details, and that removes the mechanics of shopping. It feels good for a moment, but because those feelings are only temporary, it compulsively needs to be repeated time and time again.
There has been a year on year increase in online spending. E-commerce growth is projected by emarketer.com provider of professional insights into the digital marketing world will increase to $4.058 trillion worldwide by 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending.
Alongside that spending growth, there are already approximately 11 million people (6% of current Internet users) who suffer from some form of Web addiction, according to the American Psychological Association.
The implications from this statistical data are that there will be a dramatic increase in compulsive behaviours associated with the Internet which will no doubt include compulsive shopping behaviours.
Signs of Shopping Addiction
So what’s the difference between the occasional online or high street shopping spree and a real shopping addiction?
Many people love to shop, and many people also spend more than they can reasonably afford. It is important to note that going on a shopping spree once in a while does not mean you are a shopping addict. However, there are several signs and symptoms shopping addicts display that you may want to look for.
Emotional Symptoms of a Shopping Addiction
Like all addicts, shopping addicts may try to hide their addiction, and if a loved one is addicted to shopping, they may try to hide it from you.
If you hide credit card bills, shopping bags or receipts, you may be a shopaholic. In some cases, shopaholics may try to hide their addiction by lying about just one element of it.
For instance, a person may admit they went shopping and then lie about how much they spent.
Some of the other emotional symptoms you may notice with a shopaholic include the following:
Shopping as a way to deal with feeling angry or depressed.
Shopping as a way to feel less guilty about a previous shopping spree.
Continuing the shopping habits even though it is harming crucial relationships due to excess spending.
Physical Symptoms of a Shopping Addiction
Although most addictions have physical symptoms related to them, shopping addictions can have too. Someone addicted to shopping can experience mounting feelings of anxiety as they acknowledge they can’t go shopping or spend more money online. They can suffer palpitations and changes in heart rate as well as feeling uncomfortably hot and agitated. After shopping, they may feel momentarily calmer, and their physical symptoms can subside until they feel the remorse and guilt of the ramifications of their shopping expenditure.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of a Shopping Addiction
The short-term effects of a shopping addiction may feel positive. In many cases, you may feel happy after completing a shopping trip. However, these feelings are often mixed with anxiety or guilt, and in most cases, the guilt or anxiety may propel you back to the store for even more shopping.
The long-term effects of a shopping addiction can vary in intensity and seriousness.
Many shopping addicts face financial problems, and they may become overwhelmed with debt. In some cases, they may simply max out their credit cards, but in other cases, they may take out a second mortgage on their home or charge purchases to their business credit card. If you are addicted to shopping, your personal relationships may also suffer.
It is important to realise that like any other addiction; genuine compulsive online shopping is a disease. Specialist therapy approach focuses on resolving and ending addictive behaviour.
If you are experiencing compulsions to shop and over-spend and are ready to take back control of your life then you can book an obligation free discovery via the button on this page. Don’t hide away in secret with your mounting debts and anxiety. You can feel immeasurably better from even taking this first step to recovery. Book that call now.
If compulsive shopping has led you to money and debt worries then seek help. In the UK go to www.nationaldebtline.org or call them for free debt advice on 0808 808 4000. Check your national and local services for where you live.
Sally Baker is Senior Therapist, published Author and Speaker in private practice in London for face to face sessions and the world over via the internet.
With almost twenty years of professional experience, she employs cutting-edge therapeutic approaches to help one person at a time to transform their lives.
She has extensive experience working with people to alleviate their anxiety, depression, anger issues, eating disorders as well as conflicts within relationships and the family.
To find out more about Sally Baker, her books and her work visit her website, www.workingonthebody.com