Doomscrolling And The Pandemic

September 29, 2020

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person scrolling on their cell phone
Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

Doomscrolling's Impact On Mental Health

Over the past six months, many people have increased their screentime in efforts to stay updated on everything that is happening in the world. People are getting their news in social media and news outlet websites. Some news outlets that typically charge for a monthly subscription, such as the New York Times, have even eliminated their subscription fees in efforts to make news more accessible to people. Now, psychologist are warning about the potential dangers of “doomscrolling” and its effect on our mental health.

“Doomscrolling” is defined by the NYU Department of Psychiatry as “the act of endlessly scrolling down one’s news apps, Twitter, and social media and reading bad news.” It is this “doomscrolling” that can contribute to our feels of depression and anxiety. Although looking for updates in the news may seem harmless at first, it is easy for us to get sucked into the depths of everything that is out there online. To help prevent ourselves from being sucked into the dangers of doomscrolling, check out these tips:

  1. Set a timer for yourself. Next time you go to pick up your device to check the news cycle, set a timer on your phone for 5-15 minutes. This will allow you to get a brief check of the news, without getting too sucked in. It is even better if you can transition from checking the news a few times per day, to once per day. 
  2. Look for “feel good” stories. If you decide to check the news cycle on your device, try to look for at least one “feel good” story before you log off. This is likely to distract you from the negative emotions and can help boost your mood for the rest of the day.
  3. Do something “tech-free” before bed. We have all heard before that we shouldn't go to bed in a bad mood. Doomscrolling right before bed can leave us going to sleep with feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness and can have a negative impact on our sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, we are more likely to be in a negative state of mind the next morning, which can lead to even more doomscrolling the next day. So, instead of scrolling through your phone right before bed, try reading a book or meditating with a cup of tea.

Remember that there is nothing wrong with wanting to check the news cycle on a daily basis. We are living in a world that is full of uncertainty. But, overloading yourself with negative news can do more harm than good. Just limit your exposure so you can still feel connected without being overwhelmed. Finally, if you are feeling like doomscrolling is taking over your life, reach out to someone; you are never alone, and you might not be the only one who is struggling.

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