This past weekend, I got a little behind on my regular grocery shopping routine, so I had to go shopping inside the store.
For most people, that wouldn’t seem like a big deal. But for me, it’s a pretty big deal because I have grocery shopping anxiety.
What is grocery store anxiety?
Before you go thinking I just totally made that up, let me tell you, grocery-shopping anxiety is 100 percent a real thing.
There are plenty of reasons why grocery shopping can make a person feel anxious — from worrying about spending too much money to feeling overwhelmed by the endless number of products to choose from.
Having to deal with long lines, crowded aisles, and messy shelves too, can also add to the stress of shopping and making decisions.
While “shopping anxiety” isn’t really something that’s formally diagnosed, it can affect people who often struggle with anxiety or have an anxiety disorder.
Shortly after the birth of my third child, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression & anxiety. My therapist, at the time, helped me realize that going to the grocery store unprepared became a natural trigger for my anxiety.
There were plenty of times I had anxiety attacks while shopping for food right in Walmart and didn’t even know it until she pointed that out.
Ways to Overcome Grocery Shopping Anxiety
Over the years, and with her help, I have learned a few coping techniques that have made grocery shopping with anxiety easier, and I want to share them with you too.
Because if you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety and becomes easily overwhelmed at the grocery store, you are not alone, friend.
Before I share my proven coping techniques with you, I have to put this disclaimer out there: I am no psychiatrist, therapist, or medical professional. These tips that I’m sharing are just practical advice that works for me and I hope they will help you too!
1) Chew on a stick of gum.
I received this advice from my therapist. The idea of chewing gum is to keep your brain distracted from feeling anxious. It’s almost like that stick of gum is a punching bag and you get to chew away all that anxious energy.
2) Bring someone shopping with you.
You can invite a trusted family member or friend, basically someone who knows your struggle with anxiety, and have them accompany you while shopping. They will be there to help you make decisions faster so you can get in and out of there!
I am so grateful to have the support of my husband who understands my struggle with anxiety. Sometimes he shops for me and other times he shops with me. But we don’t ever go grocery shopping as a family because our kids will just toss random items in the cart which only makes my anxiety worse.
3) Have someone waiting for you in the car.
For some reason, getting dropped off at the store and having my husband and kids wait for me in the car makes me faster at grocery shopping. I guess it’s because my brain is focused on hurrying up to get back to them.
So even if we don’t all go inside to shop, just us piling up in the car and heading there as a family, makes me feel like I’m not going grocery shopping alone and better cope with the anxiety.
4) Write yourself a shopping list.
Just think about how many times have you walked into Walmart or Target and walked out spending more money than you thought. It’s probably a lot, right?
That’s why I NEVER go grocery shopping without making an itemized list of everything I need to buy. I do this before I leave my house, taking inventory of what we have and don’t have so that I don’t get distracted or overwhelmed while I’m at the store — this helps me stay focused and stay on budget.
Do I sometimes throw a little something extra in the cart? Definitely. But at least there’s no big surprise at how much I’ve spent once I get to the checkout line because I already have a general idea in my head.
So if you’re an anxious person who constantly worries about spending too much money when you shop, make yourself a grocery list and try your best to stick to it!
5) Put in some headphones.
Believe it or not, grocery shopping is the perfect time to listen to your favorite podcast, like this one, an audiobook, or music to get you pumped. I did this for the longest and it, dare I say, made grocery shopping something I looked forward to because it was almost like having a little “me time.”
But I wouldn’t spend time talking on the phone while you’re in the store because it can distract you from getting your grocery shopping done — make those calls on your ride there or back.
6) Avoid grocery shopping on weekends.
Yes, I know Saturdays and Sundays are when most families are stocking up on new groceries for the week ahead, so telling you to avoid grocery shopping on the weekends won’t be easy. But it’s worth avoiding if you can. Or even just waiting until the evening to shop is better because it won’t be as busy.
7) Take advantage of grocery pickup or delivery services.
These days, you’ll only catch me in the grocery store to grab a few items. I’ll typically buy only the groceries we need to get through the day, and then I’ll buy the rest of our groceries online for next-day delivery.
If you’re someone who struggles with grocery shopping anxiety, I can’t recommend taking advantage of grocery pickup or delivery services enough!!
Using Walmart’s online grocery pickup and delivery services saves me a ton of time, stress, and worry. I’ve been a Walmart+ Member since they started offering free grocery delivery and I haven’t looked back.
I hope these help you better manage any grocery shopping anxiety you may have.
As a person who’s faced some mental health challenges, I just feel it’s so important for me to advocate for others and help break the stigma around anxiety and depression, especially in motherhood.
With that said, if you or anyone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, or any mental health crisis, there is help available.
Please call the National Mental Health Hotline at 1-866-903-3787 for free, confidential help. xo
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