Do you ever engage in doomscrolling? If you are unfamiliar with this term, this post will help you learn what is doomscrolling, its effects, and how to stop doomscrolling.
The past few years have been quite eventful with many bad things happening in our lives and around the world. From the coronavirus pandemic to the Russia-Ukraine war, there are so many negative things happening around us that it is almost impossible to tune them out or avoid encountering content on them.
As humans, we are curious by nature, and we want to stay updated on everything that is going on around us, especially when it is negative. It is, therefore, no surprise that most of us feel the compulsive need to keep checking for news stories and social media posts on these kinds of events all the time. But unfortunately, this tendency to constantly check for negative news can affect your mental health. This is how the term doomscrolling originated.
What Is Doomscrolling?
Also referred to as doomsurfing, doomscrolling is the destructive habit of searching for or continuing to consume content on negative events even though it makes you feel sad, anxious, stressed, or discouraged.
Sometimes, you may be drawn into doomscrolling when you log into your social media accounts and get bombarded with bad news without you having to look for such content. At other times, you could actively look for content that makes you experience negative emotions by either searching for it on the internet or continuing to scroll, watch, and read it even though you know it will affect you negatively.
Doomscrolling is worse than simply scrolling through your social media feeds. Not only are you constantly looking for negative content, but you also don’t have a limit on the time you can spend on the internet.
Why Is Doomscrolling Addictive?
It may seem like an easy habit to break, but, unfortunately, many people who engage in it have a difficult time learning how to stop doomscrolling because it is addictive.
You may start reading one article about a bad event that is happening somewhere, and the next thing you know, you have fallen down the internet rabbit hole while consuming more of such content, and it is already several hours later. Or perhaps, you go to bed and decide to check your Facebook feed ‘just one more time’ before you sleep, only to realize you have been at it till 3 A.M.
Social media algorithms don’t help when you are trying to stop doomscrolling either, as they keep putting similar content on your feed, on discover and explore pages, or on trending hashtags. Due to their design, the algorithms on most sites will likely recommend more ‘doom-and-gloom’ content while assuming it is the kind of material that interests you, making it harder for you to stop doomscrolling.
Other reasons why doomscrolling is addictive are that you are looking for a solution to the problems, searching for someone with a similar take on the situation, or, perhaps, you just want to feel safe in unprecedented times.
Since doomscrolling is addictive and has many other negative effects, it is important to know how to stop it for your peace of mind.
Effects of Doomscrolling
Doomscrolling is real and has many negative effects on your mental health and overall quality of life. Some effects of doomscrolling include;
If you are always consuming triggering or negative content, it is no surprise that one of the effects of doomscrolling you may experience is feeling anxious.
For example, when the COVID-19 started in 2020, many people would keep up with the statistics about the people infected by the virus and those dying, and they would feel anxious that they might be next. And this doesn’t only happen with things like diseases.
You may also experience anxiety after continuously looking up content on accidents, fires, politics, violence, or other horrible events happening in the world.
- Negative thought patterns and self-destructive behavior
You most likely have heard the saying, ‘You are what you eat’. It applies to doomscrolling too. The negative content you consume will become your thoughts, which will then become your actions.
Due to doomscrolling, you will experience negative thought patterns, which may lead to self-sabotage and self-destructive behaviors such as self-harm, suicide, substance abuse, or criminal activities. If you were already stressed or experiencing depression, doomscrolling worsens these mental health conditions.
- Poor sleeping patterns
You have the compulsive need to check your phone for bad news. You are feeling anxious. Negative thoughts are running through your mind. With all these happening, is it any wonder that one of the effects of doomscrolling is insomnia? You may be unable to sleep at all or experience trouble staying asleep when you do sleep due to vivid and disturbing dreams.
- Doomscrolling affects your physical health
Doomscrolling not only affects your mental health but also your physical health. After staying up all night, you may feel fatigued the next day. Over time, you could experience the many negative effects of sleep deprivation on your physical health, such as headaches, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and disruption of your immune system.
Moreover, doomscrolling involves spending a lot of time using digital devices, which could lead to eye problems, back pain, posture problems, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) in the thumbs.
- Doomscrolling is a waste of time
Other than the effects of doomscrolling on your mental health and physical wellness, this habit also wastes your time because it is addictive. You may fall down the internet rabbit hole and spend numerous hours of your day reading or watching bad news. You probably even read or watch various versions of the same content from different sources.
While spending your time doomscrolling, you could be neglecting your other responsibilities. Furthermore, most times, there is nothing you can do to help, change, or prevent what is happening; hence you are just wasting your time by doomscrolling.
How to Stop Doomscrolling
- Increase your self-awareness
Are you usually aware that you are engaging in self-destructive behavior when you spend so much time consuming negative content? Most people don’t usually realize they are doing it and why they have this habit. Hence, when learning how to stop doomscrolling, your first step should be to increase your self-awareness.
Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and monitor your feelings when scrolling, watching, or reading through content on the internet. You may realize that you gravitate towards particular types of news, some are harder for you to scroll away from, and others probably make you feel bad the rest of the day.
Once you become self-aware about your internet use, you can take the actions discussed below to learn how to stop doomscrolling.
- Switch off or keep your digital devices out of reach
After realizing that you usually do it, the easiest way to stop doomscrolling is by keeping the source of the temptation away from you. Start leaving your phone or laptop outside your bedroom before bed and have no TV in the room.
If you find yourself doomscrolling at work and it is affecting your performance and productivity, consider taking a break whenever you feel overwhelmed.
- Install screen time limit apps
Most of us have fallen down the social media scrolling rabbit hole at one time or another. Since you can’t put away your digital devices all the time, it is good to find a way to control your social media use. Hence, if you want to learn how to stop doomscrolling, you should consider installing screen time limit apps.
These apps will help you gain time management skills. They will also free up a lot of your time, which you can now spend doing better things or with your loved ones.
- Disable push notifications
Notifications about the latest news may appear on your screen, making the negative content easily accessible to you. Even when you choose not to open the articles to read, the headlines could make you feel anxious.
You should turn off push notifications on your news apps to avoid the temptation to start doomscrolling and exposure to triggering headlines.
- Reset your algorithms
As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons why you keep encountering negative content is recommendations from social media and search engine algorithms. Thus, when learning how to stop doomscrolling, you should find a way to reset your algorithms to avoid such recommendations.
To avoid consuming more negative content and doomscrolling, you could;
- Clear your search history
- Stop leaving reactions, such as likes and comments on bad news posts on social media
- Mute triggering keywords and phrases, or
- Visit more pages with content that brings out positive emotions.
- Allocate time for news
Though constantly consuming negative news is not good, living in a bubble is not an option either. Beyond your home, the outside world still continues on, and bad things will still happen. Completely tuning out all news may be a poor decision, especially when it could affect you.
For instance, it is important to stay updated on things such as wildfires, tornadoes, protests, or disease outbreaks that may be happening in your area. If you want to learn how to stop doomscrolling but still stay aware of current events, allocate a specific time to read or watch the news in your schedule.
- Distract yourself
Distractions are an excellent alternative when you are learning how to stop doomscrolling. Turn your attention to something else and try to be fully engaged in another activity.
To avoid doom scrolling, you could turn off your devices and distract yourself by doing a hobby, spending time with loved ones, or even working.
READ ALSO: 10 Ways to Unwind After a Stressful Day
- Practice grounding techniques
Constant exposure to negative content can make you anxious, stressed, and sad. These negative emotions can overwhelm you, especially if you are an empath or a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). You should learn how to stop doomscrolling for your peace of mind.
Practicing grounding techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, mantras, and affirmations, can help you manage the stress and anxiety caused by doomscrolling. They will calm your mind and help you focus on the right here and now.
- Avoid people who always discuss negative topics
How do you get the urge to look up the bad things happening in the world? Perhaps it is through news notifications or because people like to discuss current events.
Due to curiosity or, perhaps, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), you may want to get more information on what is going on; hence, you log into social media or look up the event on the internet. Thus begins your fall down the scrolling rabbit hole.
When learning how to stop doomscrolling, you have to identify what triggers this tendency and find a way to remove or limit it in your life. If the trigger is the people you surround yourself with, you could reduce interactions with them, request them to avoid discussing particular topics around you, or stay away from these individuals completely. You don’t need such negativity and toxicity in your life.
- Choose your news sources wisely
You most likely already know that not all news sources are credible or offer quality information. In pursuit of website traffic and reactions on social media, some news sources may have clickbait headlines, present the information in an exaggerated manner, or even post fake news.
Such content could make you experience anxiety, and you may start looking for similar articles on the topic while trying to verify the information. If you want to learn how to stop doomscrolling, you should choose credible news sources to be sure of the quality of the information on their website and social media accounts. It will also help you combat information overload.
The Bottom Line
Now you know what is doomscrolling, and perhaps you realize you have done it before. It is a real problem many people struggle with because doomscrolling is addictive and has numerous negative effects on your quality of life.
Since you can’t avoid bad news forever, it will be good for you to learn how to stop doomscrolling if you usually engage in it. Like any other addiction, it will likely be difficult to stop. But luckily, it is possible to learn how to avoid doomscrolling with the above tips.
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