Once upon a time, a new purchase required a trip to the shops, cash in the bank and a dead-set decision. But online shopping has changed the game. A few clicks, a credit card and easy returns means shopping is simpler than ever. Not only are e-commerce sites everywhere, their smart advertising follows you from browser to inbox, targeting you with discounts on the very pair of shoes you’ve been admiring.
This poses a real risk for individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), who might struggle to control their impulsive urges to shop, especially during the festive season when promotions are a-plenty and friends and family are in gift-receiving (and buying) mode.
Impulsivity in adults
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that commonly presents with symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. While most people are familiar with the image of a child bouncing off the walls, many people don’t know what ADHD looks like in adults. A common presentation of ADHD-related impulsivity in adults is impulsive shopping – a real challenge in the age of online retail.
Impulsivity usually means the individual doesn’t stop to consider the consequences of their actions before doing or saying something. In the case of online shopping, it might be that the individual sees a pair of shoes they like and simply buys them, without considering it might leave them short of money at the end of the month, eat into their grocery budget or add onto an already hefty credit card bill.
Co-existing conditions cause havoc
Another reason individuals with ADHD might fall into the trap of excessive and impulsive online shopping is that the condition, if undiagnosed, can cause co-existing conditions – such as low self-esteem and anxiety. Shopping might be a way for the individual to cope with poor self-image and cheer themselves up in ‘low’ moments.
Wondering how to stop?
Here are some and efficient way for those with ADHD to avoid the pitfalls of online retail this festive season:
Unsubscribe from online retail newsletters. These are specifically designed to probe you when you’ve opted out of a purchase and will keep hounding you with improved offers.
Change the settings of your Google and social media accounts to limit the advertising you’re exposed to. Most people don’t even know this is possible. Head to the ‘Settings’ tab of your account and then manage your preferences. If you’re struggling to track it down, try the ‘Help’ page or a simple search.
Create a festive season budget (specifically for gifts to family, and gifts from you to you). Make every effort to stick to it. Explain to your friends and family that you’re dialling back on spending – they’ll understand. Writing or typing it out is a practical way to solidify your budget. Only use credit cards for emergencies.
Never allow online shopping sites to store your card details, either. This makes it effortless to buy.
Plan and buy Christmas gifts ahead of time, so you’re not overwhelmed by the shopping hype at the height of the season.
With just a little forethought and discipline, bad online shopping habits that prey on impulsivity can be curbed. And that means a safer, happier and less stressful festive season.