Do you constantly check social media pages just to stay updated on the latest news and trends? Do you subject your brain to endless amounts of information (or bad news)? If your response is a firm yes, then you are also victim to doomscrolling, the latest habit affecting the millennials.
But why do people doomscroll? There is a valid reason. The human brain is always on the lookout for threats to sure safety and well-being, and to prepare for what’s to come. When people read upsetting news their threat response is activated. This is helpful because it helps to stay safe and motivates to address in response to the threat. This is why people scroll news after news, as the brain perceives that we are doing something essential and productive.
However, we need to understand that our brain isn’t made to access information in this manner and extent. So an overload of information can result in overwhelming stress, and other problems such as depression, insomnia, anxiety or panic, and self-harm.
Just because we realize doomscrolling is bad for us, doesn’t mean it is easy to stop doing it. Alternatively, experts have come up with certain techniques to introduce healthier habits and also help cut back.
1. Examine Your Thoughts While Doomscrolling
If you notice a lot of anxiety after reading the news on your phone, you need to review your habits. Experts suggest using cognitive behavioral therapy here by identifying your thoughts, rational or irrational. Analyze your negative thoughts and your reaction to them. Take time to self-reflect, and identify their triggers.
2. Set Realistic Goals About Spending Time Online
It helps greatly if you set a predetermined amount of timeout for yourself to spend on social media. You can set a reminder to turn off the phone or use apps that inform you of your screen time daily and also how much time you spent on each social media site.
Another useful thing is assigning chunks of time to catch up on news after every hour or so. Like checking Twitter for 15 minutes and closing the app for a few hours or so. This way you will not feel tempted to recheck your social media feeds and also stay updated.
3. Don’t Reach Out For Your Phone Right After You Wake Up
Indulge in a bit of mindfulness every morning rather than reaching for your social media feeds. Make a concrete effort to wake up at a fixed time each day and stay away from technology for at least the first half-hour. Your mind and body will awaken naturally and you will notice an increase in your productivity. Fill your mornings with things like listening to a podcast or reading a book, anything to fill the void of looking at your screen.
4. Try Meditation For A Few Seconds
The idea of building habits around meditation is an old one but sure is beneficial as it can improve your mental health drastically. It is also a lot better than indulging in doomscrolling. There is a very short meditation technique called Vipassana which takes only 10 minutes and is used to identify thoughts and feelings. Anytime you are watching the news or feeling unsettled, practice this technique and you will instantly feel better.
5. Assign Time For Creative Activities
Put away your phone, and focus on doing something creative and productive as this can help you with your mental health. This can be any fixed time of the day when you will switch off your phone and indulge in an activity that will stimulate your brain. Working on a puzzle, or coloring books, or playing an instrument all have similar effects.
6. Turn Off All Notifications
Back in the day, when smartphones were new, having the notifications turned on was kind of cool and important too. But today, they are nothing more than a distraction. If your notifications stop you from what you are doing, it’s time to turn them off. They create a false sense of urgency and nothing more.
7. Set Time Aside To Spend With Your Family
As mentioned earlier you are not the only person in your circle who is struggling to stay away from doomscrolling. You can take time to reach out to friends and family, asking them how they are doing, making plans together, discussing your current hobbies, or a podcast or book you just discovered. You can discuss anything except the news cycle.
8. Spend Time Outside Daily For A Few Minutes
No one can deny the importance of time spent outdoors in the fresh air, preferably around trees, sand, or grass, without your gadgets. This can be extremely helpful. Your nervous system calibrates better when you are in nature, and the sunlight can do wonders by regulating your mood and flow. You can also counteract the negative effects of doomscrolling by spending time outside.
9. Unfollow accounts you are following
You can make a list of things you love or enjoy doing. The people you choose to follow on social media inspire you in ways you don’t even realize. There are many influencers, artists, professionals who share affirmative messages in their social media posts. If you follow these people, you are making a healthy choice for yourself.
Stick with a few trusted news sources, and follow calming, funny, and entertaining accounts. This way you will be able to break the doomscrolling cycle for good.
10. Bid Goodbye to Screen At Least an Hour Before Bed
We all know it’s too hard, but isn’t impossible. Start by ending screen time 15 to 30 minutes before bed and increase gradually. This involves staying away from Netflix too.
Technology impacts the way we sleep too, as the brain remains alert, which prevents us from taking a good night's sleep. Try to keep your phone and computer out of your bedroom, and prioritize your sleep. This will also stop you from scrolling news feeds late into the night.