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State of Mind: Many admit to emotional spending, eating during COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 11:17 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Many can say you’ve bought something you really didn’t need or maybe went back for seconds or thirds of dessert. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all looked for ways to find happiness, but with that pursuit comes a question: Are those hobbies healthy for you? Eyewitness News spoke with a psychologist about emotional spending and eating and how it could impact your state of mind.

If you’ve ever felt like you were on a mission to buy something, even if you weren’t looking for anything particular and didn’t need anything, you’re far from alone. Psychologist dr. Molly Allen said there’s a reason so many sometimes feel this way.

‘You have an itch emotionally that you feel like the transaction for goods is going to scratch,” Dr. Allen said. “The problem is it never completely scratches that itch.”

That shirt you liked in the moment now sits in your closet, unworn, or the trinket you bought is now stuffed somewhere in a box. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet makes it that much easier to make compulsive purchases online.

“It is way too easy with the internet to be able to see something, want it and purchase it,” Dr. Allen said. “It’s almost like you don’t see that money transmitted until you get your bill from your credit card company.”

Dr. Allen said emotional spending is a real issue and many don’t realize they’re doing it. She said that also goes for emotional eating and drinking.

“A lot of times, it’s depression and we want those feel-good chemicals and we are not getting them,” Dr. Allen said.

She said many people get to a point where they start justifying their spending or eating and drinking.

“It’s that you are angry or sad about something else and you are going to try to get that emotional need met through a cookie,” Dr. Allen said.

Whether it’s emotional spending, eating or drinking, there are ways you can check in on yourself. Dr. Allen recommends answering three questions:

1. Is it interfering with your daily life?

2. Are you aware of what and how much you are spending, eating or drinking?

3. Is it impacting your health?

Dr. Allen said you can to to put yourself on a “spending diet,” limiting non-essential purchases to one per month, or maybe every other week. She said you should keep track of how much you are spending, eating or drinking and ask yourself if it aligns with your goals. Especially important, if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.

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