Living during a global pandemic can often feel like being stuck in the Twilight Zone. Our “new normal” is far from normal and has no shortage of bad news. Due to the 24-hour news-cycle we live in, it is nearly impossible to avoid the daily delivery of harrowing news, whether it’s about new Covid cases, racial unrest, or the declining economy. Unfortunately, an overabundance of bad news combined with the desire to be more informed can have a negative impact on your mental health. That’s where doomscrolling comes in.
What is Doomscrolling
Doomscrolling is the act of reading news that gives you anxiety but not being able to stop yourself from doing so. Those who participate in doomscrolling aren’t gluttons for punishment; rather, they are looking to relieve their anxiety rather than increase it. Each article or post is like a mirage, providing the traveler with a feeling of hope, until they take a closer look. The effects of this virtual trek can have a negative effect on your mental health. Based on a study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53% of adults in the US have reported their mental health being negatively affected by current events. While this post may make you feel that you have fallen victim to doomscrolling yet again, this article isn’t another example of doom and gloom reading. After all, the next step after identifying the problem is finding ways to combat it.
How to Prevent Doomscrolling
The key is to strike a balance in the content you consume on social media. The stress associated with reading only about contemptuous politics or other world events can cause anyone to lose their hair, while only watching adorable animal videos will leave you uninformed about the world around you. Therefore, the way to achieve the harmonious balance of being informed and sane is to have a plan for what you’re looking for on social media. If you’re feeling stressed from a long day of work, check out sites where you know you will find light-hearted content (such as this dog video compilation from The Dodo.).
Another way to avoid the doomscrolling scaries is to take a break from your phone entirely. Simply taking a walk outside can help combat the gloomy side effects that come from endless scrolling. If you are looking to strengthen your mental health during a time that is quite taxing on the mind, try doing some mindfulness exercises, such as meditating, exercising, or reading a book. Looking for some unconventional techniques to de-stress? Try doing puzzles or playing with some Silly Putty.
While this overabundance of information at our fingertips can feel overwhelming, it can also be useful, but only on your own terms. In the end, we are the ones doing the reading the news, despite how it may seem like they are drawing you in. Don’t forget to trust your instincts when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, and take a break. Things are better in moderation, and information consumption is no different.