The role of ‘emotions‘ in how, when, where, and how often we shop, is well documented. Thoughts about a brand or a product or an idea, are likely to inform an emotion or feeling, which inform an action. When confronted with perceived danger or insecurity, our reptillian or primal, self-preservation brain may kick in, resulting in ‘fight, flight or freeze‘ responses. Our brains and bodies are compelled to respond to fear – even if we don’t recognize it at the time. And, even though advertisers would have you believe you are making conscious and well reasoned choices.
It’s no wonder then that during this pandemic, ‘flight’ and ‘fight’ responses have been so well documented (Consider the screaming matches around masks, and the big parties despite public health warnings). Shopping is another version of ‘flight’ that has taken off around COVID-19. We saw it at the start of the pandemic with panic buying and hoarding, and we see it continue during repeated lockdowns with online shopping. Indeed online shopping gives us a sense of movement and ‘doing’ something when our actual, physical mobility is so limited. The problem is that many of us are spending money we don’t have and buying things we don’t need – resulting in more anxiety later on.
There are ways to slow down that process and interrupt those fight-flight impulses — replacing them with alternative soothing behaviours.