Finding Yourself Shopping More Than Usual These Days? You Could Be Doom Spending

Doom shopping

Given all that’s going wrong in the world today, it’s no wonder people are exhibiting behaviours that are out of the norm for them — one of them being doom shopping or doom spending.

If you’re not familiar with the terms, they’re relatively new, coined during the pandemic. Essentially, they’re frivolous spending on consumer goods when you’re feeling anxious or stressed, or after a negative event. Or, in our case, what with the war in Ukraine, flooding in the Northern Rivers and even Shane Warne’s sudden death, negative events plural.

“People often engage in doom spending after going through a difficult experience as it can allow them to switch off for a moment and get instant gratification,” says Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno.

Shopping feels good for many people because it can tap into the brain’s reward centre. It triggers the release of brain chemicals (dopamine) which gives you a shopping high and can make you want to escape and forget about any worries, even if only momentarily.”

Sokarno adds that we could be doom spending unconsciously — not knowing why — or consciously — to relieve boredom.

So, all that said, how do we stop doom spending? According to Sokarno, it really depends on how it’s affecting you. If you have disposable money to spend and it’s making you happy, then it’s ok to find a bit of joy in that, she says.


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“However, if it’s worrying you or even affecting you financially, you need to find ways to curb that habit,” she says. “Set some boundaries around your spending limits, give yourself a budget or restrict yourself in other ways such as only allowing yourself to purchase one item a month or as a reward for achieving something. Try to find other ways to escape or de-stress – perhaps try an exercise like meditation, yoga or journalling that could help ease any worries.”

Another thing to think about is that we often get that dopamine hit we’re craving in anticipation of shopping — not necessarily after we’ve made a purchase. Dopamine is typically released when the brain is in anticipation of a reward, so even window shopping can make you feel good, she explains. Something to consider if you have found doom spending to be taking a major toll on your finances.

If your doom spending is becoming a serious problem though, Sokarno says it’s probably best to seek the help of a professional. Services like Beyond Blue and Lifeline offer free over-the-phone counselling that can assist when you need to talk through anything. Otherwise, services like Lysn provide access to psychologists via video chat, which you can do from the comfort of your own home.

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