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5 Simple Ways to Manage Anxiety while shopping post COVID-19

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

Who else got really used to lock-down life and now the thought of going

shopping is a little overwhelming?! Yeah! Me too. But one of the best

strategies I ever learnt for managing my anxiety was to BREAK THINGS

DOWN. Going to the shops to buy groceries, a new bulb for that lamp

that hasn’t worked in weeks, a birthday present for your dad, all on top

of physical distancing and constant sanitising..YEAH,OVERWHELMING!

So I wanna share 5 really useful and easy ways to break things down

that will help you manage your anxiety while out shopping post


1. Lists, lists and more lists..

Start simple, before you even leave for the shops, make a list; jot

everything down as you notice you need it, big, small, totally necessary

or completely unnecessary - include it all. List’s really help me manage

my anxiety, especially when it comes to shopping. How often do you say

to yourself ‘I need to remember and get toothpaste this week’ and when

you forget, you punish yourself and call yourself useless because you

can't even remember to buy toothpaste. Sound familiar? Well

thankfully, using lists totally eliminates the chances of you forgetting

items you need. Read our article on journaling for mental health.

Making lists in advance is also super useful for letting you reflect on the

items you have added to your list. Do I really need another expensive

cookbook that I’m never gonna use? Are there enough fruit and veggies on

my list? Am I missing anything important.. Oh yeah, teabags! This tip also has

the added benefit of hopefully saving you a few dollars when you

realise that, no, you don’t need another cookbook!

2. Needs and Wants

So you have your list, maybe you have multiple lists scattered across a

few napkins because you forgot to buy a notebook last week (because it

wasn’t on your list)! Next step is to break it down into NEEDS and

WANTS. Not washed your hair in a while and starting to get funny

looks? Shampoo is definitely a NEED. Already got a cupboard full of

cereal but you’re bored and want to try a new flavour? This is a WANT.

Breaking your shopping list down into needs and wants will help make

your shopping list a little less overwhelming. You can start your

shopping trip by picking up all your needs, and if things get a little too

much and your anxiety is getting the better of you, you can head home

and still know you’ve got some essentials.

A really useful prerequisite to this step is taking some time out to make

a list (oh yeah, another one) of the things that you need on a week to

week basis to feel yourself. This should include the basics - food &

hygiene products. But also the little things that keep you feeling calm,

whether that’s the pampering bath bomb you love on a friday or the

herbal tea you have before bed. These necessities should always be on

your needs list (or in your cupboard).

3. Plan

Every boy scout knows the value of a good plan. You’ve got your list,

you’ve broken it down into needs and wants. Now you plan! The impact

of Covid-19 means a lot of businesses have adapted and now offer

online shopping or click and collect options. These are great

alternatives if managing your anxiety while shopping is still particularly difficult

or you’re just not feeling up to it one week. You might also like to make an anxiety safety plan.

But if you find yourself still taking a trip to your local shops having a plan is key.

Knowing what shops you need to hit in what order will help keep you

focused and calm. If crowds are particularly difficult for you, try to plan

your shop early while shops are quieter.

But there’s more to plan than just your route and timing. Plan for the

unexpected too. You may think you’re having a good day and have your

anxiety under control, until something goes wrong or not to plan. No

spaces in the car park? Shop doesn’t have your shoe size? You promised

your mum flour but there’s none left? Give yourself some time to

mentally prepare for a range of eventualities. This really helps me

manage my anxiety when I’m out shopping and something goes wrong

(and in many other scenarios) as I’ve given myself time to adjust to the

possibility of things going wrong, think of alternatives and tell myself

that it’s not my fault if the shop doesn’t have flour (that’s COVID’s


4. PIMP your shop

This is where you make your shopping experience yours. Each of us is

going to manage our anxiety while shopping differently but it’s

important to reflect on what you need to make it easier for you. Maybe

you like shopping alone? Or prefer having a second opinion? Maybe you

like making a day of it and stopping for a coffee half way? Maybe you’d

rather it was over before breakfast time? By creating a shopping

experience that best suits you and your anxiety, you will ensure it’s

easier to manage if things do go wrong and over time help reframe

shopping into a positive experience.

5. Celebrate your success!

Only managed to visit 1 shop? Got side-tracked and bought that

cookbook you didn’t need but none of your essentials? Got everything

on your list and treated yourself to a new mug? CELEBRATE YOUR

SUCCESSES! This is so important to remember and put into practice!

Whether your shopping trip was a total success or you didn’t make it

past your list, THAT’S OK! Each week will be different and each week

will have it’s own challenges especially while we are navigating life post

lock-down. But it’s crucial you remember to see the positives in each

shopping experience, however successful. If you only managed to buy

toothpaste, then great, you’ll have clean teeth! Managed to get

everything on your needs list? Amazing, another week down.

Together or individually, when put into practice these simple tips can

help you manage your anxiety and transform the way you feel about

your weekly trip to the shops.

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