5 Things That Make Shopping Easier

Shopping is not my favorite thing. It was kind of fun before arthritis, but these days it’s just something that I have to get done. It’s the classic trickster’s trap because things look one way when they’re actually much different. This is heightened because we think we “know” what we’re doing, afterall, we’ve been doing it all our lives.

Most of us have not been shopping with arthritis all of our lives. And arthritis likes to change things up. Any trip to the store has the potential to blow the ability budget, wiping out our energy, activity, and motor skills until recovery is complete.

These are my best 5 shopping tips.

Know before you go

Wandering around in the store is a recipe for wallet and fatigue disasters. Decide which stores are right for you and show up with a detailed list, ideally by section. It helps me to decide how long  I want to spend shopping. It’s okay to have a day with lots of shopping, but I’ll need to schedule that with a recovery day immediately after.

Be proactive about pain fatigue

I do my best to limit or avoid shopping on high fatigue days. Smaller stores work best for me if fatigue is high. I’m never entirely pain-free, so wearing compression socks and pretreating the most vulnerable areas with topical pain relievers is a must. My TENS unit is crucial for navigating big box stores and for trips with lots of bags or boxes to carry into the house. Planning rest and recovery time usually helps manage activity hangovers, but there’s no guarantee.

Stay focused!

Stores count on the temptation of new and interesting things to pad their sales, but you’re on a mission. Get in, get the goods, and get out. Try to keep your cart as organized as possible, with shelf-table goods separate from perishable. This makes a natural stop point if fatigue strikes as you’re putting things away. I’ve stashed the whole bag in the fridge or freezer more times than I can count.


Once all the groceries are stashed consider how your trip went. Maybe you found the curbside pick-up or tote bags of your dreams! Maybe this store and shopping plan are the right ones. If not, there are plenty of other fish left in the sea.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What worked well?
  2. What didn't?
  3. What would you like to change?
  4. What are the best candidates for home delivery?
  5. Is there another store I might like better?

Don’t forget self-compassion

Most of us can scrounge up compassion for somebody else, but it can be harder to find for ourselves, especially for something mundane like shopping, fatigue, or feeling overwhelmed. If a beloved friend confided that shopping fills them with dread or anxiety, we wouldn’t chastise them. We’d probably hear them out, discuss options, or offer help. Each of us owes the same compassion for our own issues with shopping.

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