Doomscrolling!! Tips to Stop
Doomscrolling is defined as the practice of scrolling through bad news stories on the internet one after another and continuing to do so even though it is distressing or makes you sad. It is a fairly mindless, automatic behavior that we know isn’t good for us, yet we are somehow compelled to continue. I’m pretty sure we’ve all done it at some time or another, but why? Why would we do this to ourselves?
Why do we Doomscroll?
Well, part of it is that these sites are designed to capture and hold our attention. This is exactly how they make their money, so they really want to keep you engaged on their site. They do this by engaging your emotions. Anger is a really popular one because they know that if they can get you angry, you will be more likely to leave a comment, and they become rewarded for the number of comments, followers, and the like.
Another reason you might catch yourself doomscrolling is that as humans we seek knowledge and find comfort in it. So during a particularly stressful time in your life, you might find yourself mindless scrolling through bad news stories in the middle of the night!
How Does Doomscrolling affect us?
There were lots of studies done on this topic during the Covid pandemic, and not surprisingly, doomscrolling has been linked to increased depression and anxiety. To cite a couple of these studies:
A group in Germany conducted a survey and found a connection between the amount of doomscrolling we engage in and increased symptoms of depression and generalized and pandemic-specific anxiety
Researchers at Dartmouth College found that increased phone usage is linked with increased depression, anxiety, and a sedentary lifestyle
A study published in the journal Health Communication found that people with greater news consumption display increased levels of stress, anxiety, and poor health
A study published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior showed that doomscrolling is associated with anxiety, lowered self-control, and the “fear of missing out” or FOMO
So How Do I Stop Doomscrolling?
There are several different techniques you can use to help limit or stop doomscrolling. Check out some listed below:
Set a timer on your device to limit the amount of time you spend looking at news stories
Intentionally seek out positive stories. Perhaps join groups that will bring more of these to your feed. For instance, cooking pages, gardening, crafts, book clubs, travel pages, volunteer opportunities, etc
Turn off any alerts on your social media accounts. Seeing these will draw you back in and cause the cycle of doomscrolling to begin again
Set a time at night that you will put down your phone or tablet and engage in other activities. If you have trouble doing this, ask for help from your family or friends.
Keep a log of when and for how long you engage in doomscrolling. This will increase your awareness of the scope of the problem, which may help to motivate you to change.
Make doomscrolling more difficult to do. So maybe leave your phone on the charger in another infrequently used room, or delete the social media app from all devices except the one that you use the least frequently. Doing something like this will stop you from engaging in mindless, automatic behavior. You will have to make a conscious decision to start doomscrolling.
Doomscrolling has been shown to be detrimental to your mental health. It has been linked to depression, anxiety, stress, and decreased health. If you would like to talk more about these techniques or would like to start CBT therapy to address your depression or anxiety, please follow the link!