Why You Could Be Hoarding In Crisis — And How To Stop

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Why You Could Be Hoarding In Crisis — And How To Stop
Self

It's normal to feel anxiety and stress during trying and unpredictable times, like the pandemic due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

But in the resulting quarantine, many people have made the choice to go out and purchase supplies in amounts that are more than necessary, stockpiling hoarded goods that all of us are relying on to get through this pandemic and "shelter in place" order.

Are you hoarding supplies, like toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products? This is a major issue.

RELATED: 11 Healthy & Educational Ways To Keep Kids Busy While Cooped Up At Home In Coronavirus Quarantine

Up until recently, "hoarding" simply meant a home that was filled up or overflowing with stuff. Or maybe in referring to a friend or relative you couldn’t visit because their home was so full, they couldn’t have anyone over.

So what is a "hoarding disorder" and how can you tell if what you're doing during the panic is hoarding or healthy shopping?

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that hoarding disorders occur in somewhere between two and six percent of the population. That’s a lot of people. Those diagnosed with hoarding disorders save random items and store them haphazardly.

People challenged by hoarding disorders have tremendous difficulty letting go of things they've saved. In fact, they often save so many things that their homes are completely filled up.

However, during times of a crisis, like with COVID-19, there are also people who are fearful of not being able to get the things they need to feed their family, keep their homes clean, and feel safe.

They stock up on these items and buy more than they will use to feel safe in their homes.

Hoarding is about control.

We have no control over the virus.

Having no control is an unfamiliar feeling for many people. So, you end up wanting to control what you can. Many people are stockpiling (hoarding) supplies, so that they have control over some part of their life.

The news will frequently post stories and interviews with truck drivers and store employees who assure the public that supplies are being delivered to shelves daily.

These people clearly state that you don’t need to buy more than your family requires; fresh supplies are getting delivered all the time. The fabulous, tirelessly working employees at stores across the country having been working every evening to restock the shelves.

Hoarding behaviors are often triggered by a life-changing event.

The novel coronavirus has certainly changed our lives.

During a time when you're being told to practice social distancing and to stay six feet or more away from other people, it's easy to be fearful.

Businesses have closed, children are out of school, parents are finding out just how hard it is to be a teacher, and many are struggling to make ends meet with an uncertain economic future.

RELATED: 4 Simple Steps To Overcoming Fear & Anxiety During The Coronavirus Pandemic

"Hunkering down" and protecting yourself. 

We are actively living through a disaster — that's apparent. Experience tells you that you have to hunker down and be prepared when disaster strikes, so you may feel like you need to close in on yourself and protect the things you hold dear.

Some people have done just that by hoarding supplies.

They have gathered the things in their homes that make them feel safer and more in control, but this is hurting the people around you who are in need.

Some people didn't prepare by running out and buying a month’s worth of frozen food, bottled water, paper towels, and toilet paper. These people are also looking for essential cleaning supplies, and they can’t find them.

If you have more than you need, consider sharing.

Ask your neighbor if they're running out of something. If you have more than you will use in a couple of weeks or a month, please share your supply. That would be so kind.

Some people say extreme times call for extreme measures. Maybe the people hoarding supplies believe these are extreme times.

Certainly, they are difficult and challenging times, but let’s look at how people have risen to the occasion.

Truck drivers are doing their best to supply our stores, restaurants have set themselves up to provide more takeout meals.

People are working from home, orchestras are practicing together via Zoom, business meetings are happening online, organizations are providing workshops and classes on their sites, and so much more.

We will get through this.

When? No one knows. Have faith that you will.

People are strong, resourceful, innovative, and determined.

In the meantime, please stop hoarding supplies. If you just buy what you need plus a little extra and have faith that when you need more it will be in your store, everyone will be better equipped.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Limit Coronavirus Exposure When Grocery Shopping Or Ordering Takeout

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Diana Quintana is a certified professional organizer and the owner of DNQ Solutions who teaches people how to become organized and maintain order in their lives. For more information on how she can help you, visit her website here.

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