Doomscrolling: Kick the Habit

By: Amanda Young

What is Doomscrolling?

Doomscrolling, or also known as doomsurfing, is a new term that is being used. According to Merriam-Webster, doomscrolling is the tendency to continue to scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing.  With recent news about COVID-19, millions of individuals have been reading negative news articles regarding the pandemic without the ability to stop.  

In times of crisis, individuals tend to pay more attention to the news to look for answers on how to cope or to find when the crisis is going to be near an end.  Our phones give us quick and easy access to doomscroll through the internet or our social media feeds.  

The Negative Effects

Recently, the nighttime routines of many consist of scrolling through their phones to catch up on their friends, news and other entertainment.  This nighttime scrolling can result in individuals doomscrolling.  Individuals can start scrolling through their phones and before they know if an hour or more can pass by.  

In the past few months, doomscrolling has caused individuals to fall “into deep, morbid rabbit holes filled with coronavirus content, agitating [themselves] to the point of physical discomfort, erasing any hope of a good night’s sleep”.  This type of behavior has led millions of individuals into experiencing anxiety, depression, and even at minimum a sense of FOMO.

In addition to having negative impacts on mental health, doomscrolling has caused individuals to shorten their attention span.  One blogger shared how over quarantine she spent more and more time on her phone and she believes that her attention span has been greatly impacted.  During quarantine, she felt as if her attention span had been going in different directions making it very difficult for her to concentrate.  She also shared that it felt like the social media apps on her phone were “melting [her] brain”.  It got to the point where she had to break the vicious cycle of going from one app to another.

How to prevent it?

Create designated phone hours and designated places to use your phone

Mandate technology-free days

Practice healthy habits when not on your phone

  • Practice breathing exercises and go outside to get some physical exercise.  These exercises will help boost serotonin levels and will encourage you to strengthen your mental health

Use other apps to stay informed while avoiding the temptation to keep from scrolling

  • Ex: Apple News, Google News, The Week, Flipboard, SmartNews, News360, Knewz, News Break, Yahoo News, and Pocket.

Use wellness apps to help limit screen time

Be mindful on how articles or posts make you feel

Be realistic and think practical

  • Some individuals imagine the absolute worse; evaluate the situation and rethink on the practicality of your thoughts

Practice and teach yourself to stop unhealthy thoughts

Slow down the speed you are scrolling at

  • The human attention span can only process very little in a short period of time; be thorough when reading articles

Focus and pay attention to what you can and cannot control