What is doomscrolling and how to stop it
The world is in turmoil! Whether it’s through crisis or uncertainty and for many of us, our whole lives have been flipped upside down leaving us in limbo.
There is a clickbait headline around every corner drawing you in to read more and there’s no limit on things to talk about, the presidential election drama, racial injustice and terrorist attacks just to name a few.
And due to many of us spending more time at home, the amount of time that we are spending reading articles, surfing the web and looking at social media has only increased, in fact, both Facebook and Twitter have reported an increase of usage since the start of lockdown according to Econsultancy.com.
It kind of sounds like DOOMSCROLLING!
What is doomscrolling?
Doomscrolling, otherwise known as doomsurfing, is a term used to describe people’s tendency to continuously search for and endlessly consume, negative news and information over the internet. This constant scrolling through upsetting, distressing and infuriating news has been linked to poor mental health and well-being yet, it is only becoming more common and a daily habit for many people around the world.
Why do we doomscroll
Well if you didn’t know already, humans aren’t biologically made to be positive all the time, we’re actually more prone to naturally focus on negativity due to evolutionary factors that kept us safe from dangers. We also like to feel in control of what is going on around us, even if it’s not possible you’ll try to stay informed on topic to get the feeling of control and comfort.
The social media algorithms don’t help either! The more that you engage with certain content, the more likely they are to show you similar content so, if start watching bad news clip, you end up down a rabbit hole of negativity.
We’re also more likely to look for information that confirms our feelings so, if you’re feeling down in the dumps, you might tend to watch more saddening videos.
Signs that you are a doomscroller
It can be hard to notice but, there are some warning signs that you can look out for.
- Having tension in your body, specifically around the neck and shoulders
- Finding yourself waiting for new stories to come in and constantly refreshing
- Noticing that you are on your phone late at night or early in the morning
- Feeling that you always have to stay up to date with everything that is going on
- Loosing track of time that you spend on reading the news
- Headaches, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and stomach ache
Negative effects of doomscrolling
It’s kind of like junk food… even though we know that in excessive amounts it’s bad for us, we just can’t help ourselves from keeping going back for more. Below are some examples of the negative effects that you may experience.
Feelings of anxiety and depression
By obsessively consuming negative news, you put your body in a constant stressful state, keeping you in a fight or flight mindset. You can easily end up in a downwards spiral from reading the news which makes you feel anxious and then reading more news to try and feel more in control even though it makes you more anxious.
Excessive social media use has already been linked to depression and feelings of loneliness and with the added news articles and having to lock down, it’s no surprise that people are feeling even worse.
Comfort food eating
If you have a negative mindset and start to feel mentally unwell, it’s common to look for the “quick fixes” that will bring us back to a state of comfort and normality but, this obviously isn’t the long-term solution to all of your problems.
It’s not just comfort eating either, it could be smoking or drinking, any bad habit that is used as escapism from reality.
Finding it hard to sleep
With a constant monolog inside your head of all the dreadful news stories, it can make it very hard for you to fall asleep, not only that but, stress is detrimental to the quality of your sleep as well. By not getting any good shuteye, your likely to be more stressed out, meaning that you are in a loop of restlessness.
It is quite customary to having trouble switching off at night time and this will only be adding to the dilemma.
One of the biggest problems right now is that we are in an infodemic, meaning that we are bombarded with both correct and incorrect news on certain topics. This can leave you with brain fog because you see data from one media outlet and a totally different piece of information from another.
This can cause confusion, make it hard for you to focus and have a lack of mental clarity.
Being in a continuous state of uncertainty, can leave you feeling drained, day in and day out. The energy zapping consequences can leave you stuck in your bed, not wanting to do anything apart from read more news.
You might feel helpless and that nothing can get you out of this rut you put yourself in.
15 tips on how to stop doomscrolling
Gray scale your phone
Gray scaling has long been used to help people with a phone addiction. It’s a simple trick in which you turn everything on your phone black and white and get rid of all the colors, the idea behind it is that colors (specifically red) grab your attention and draw you in.
It’s not hard to set up either.
For iPhone users:
- Open Settings
- Open General
- Choose Accessibility
- Choose Display Accommodations
- Select Color Filters
- Toggle Color Filters On
- Select Grayscale
For android users:
- Go to settings
- About phone
- Press build number 7-10 times
- Go back
- Press developer options and turn on
- Scroll down to “simulate color space” and tap
- Choose monochromacy
catastrophizing is when you feel like something is much worse than something actually is, it is when you assume that the worst case scenario will always happen and this is often without any evidence to back up your belief. An example of this could be if you asked someone out and they rejected you, you would start to believe that everyone will reject you and your going to live a lonely life, it’s the over exaggeration of negative things.
This happens when we read the news, with all the current headlines, you quite easily think it’s the end of the world but, that’s not the case. It can help to know that these thoughts are often irrational and coming up with more realistic outcomes.
Set time limits
Whenever you are doing something that isn’t the most productive, you should always set time limits on the amount of time you want to spend doing it because if not, your mind will run away with itself. You should also set boundaries on what time of day you will look at the news, preferably not the first thing in the morning as it will make you more reactive instead of proactive and not last thing at night because it might play on your mind.
Turn off notifications
Even if you manage to pull yourself away from your phone, it always tries to find it’s way back into your hands. Notifications are the guilty culprit when it comes to distracting you and half of the time it’s nothing even worth opening your phone for… but you do.
Try turning off your notifications or for a quick fix just put airplane mode on and get back to whatever you was doing.
Look for the good news
I know it might seem as though everything is going wrong but, there are good things going on around the world and some might be right on your doorstep, you just need to look for them. You can literally type in “good news” on Google and there are plenty of good reads.
If you really can’t find anything good (I’m sure you can) create some positivity in the world. Start a charity, call a friend, or do any kind gesture because in times like this they can go a long way.
Use mindfulness techniques
Mindfulness techniques help us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings and by practicing them we can become more conscious of what we are consuming in our life’s, it can also help us to deal with the stressors in our life’s better.
A quick search for a guided meditation on YouTube will come up with thousands of videos you can watch.
Unfollow and unsubscribe
You’ve probably got a lot of friends (or even foes) on your social media accounts that share negative story after negative story and it’s clogging up your feed and your mind. Your probably also subscribe to certain news channels and youtubers that share fear mongering content or false information and its time to get rid.
It’s nothing personal but if you notice that every time you see an upload from someone, whether it’s a person or a company and it’s making feel upset, you need to delete them. Every so often go through your emails, your friends lists and the people you are subscribed to.
There’s thousands of news stories, especially at the moment and you don’t need to know everything, you need to be intentional in what you look for. Looking for a certain answer to your question is totally fine to stay informed but don’t keep pressing the suggested tab.
Once you’ve read an article, ask yourself whether you found what you was looking for and if you did stop there.
Notice your feelings
If you notice that you are beginning to feel overwhelmed or you start experiencing any of the signs of doomscrolling, it can be a good indication that you need to stop. Try to be more aware of what your body is telling you and it will help you in the long run.
You know yourself best so, if something isn’t good for you, you need to put a stop to it.
There are plenty of helpful apps out there that can help you stop scrolling through negative news stories, from one’s that block you from certain apps to others that limit your time on them. It’s all about knowing how restricted you want to be.
Find better things to do
One of the reasons that you might be doomscrolling is the simple fact that you are bored, being at home 24 hours a day can become monotonous and that’s why it’s important keep your mind and body active. Exercise, board games or working on a side hustle are a great way to pass the time.
If you’re struggling for ideas, don’t worry! We’ve created a whole blog post of things you can do during lockdown to relieve stress, have some fun and learn something new.
Make it hard
Humans are actually lazy creatures when you think about it, we’re more likely to look for the easiest option possible so, if you make it harder to read the news, you are a lot less likely to do it. You can lock your device in a box or leave it at home.
Some of the time we look through negative news as a way to escape reality, or to disguise what’s really at the root of the problem. Be honest with yourself and find out what the actual reason for your scrolling is, are you feeling lonely so you do this to feel more connected? Or are you scared and want some reassurance.
By identifying the real reason for your habit, you can look at solving them problems directly in the first place, so you don’t feel you need to go to the news for answers.
Focus on the here and now.
Understanding that you can’t control everything will help you to not get so upset and by focusing on what you can do will help you feel more in control. Look for the small wins that you can achieve daily.
Do a detox
We’re not really fans of the word detox because of the connotations of it but, in some instances they can be beneficial. Try challenging yourself to one whole day without your phone or without social media and if you don’t find it to bad, progressively up the amount time.