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How to Stop “Doomscrolling” in 3 Effective Ways

With election time comes enormous levels of uncertainty. Election day 2020 in the United States is November 3rd, and right now, the air is rife with election anxiety, curiosity, and straight-up political tension.

If you find yourself reaching for your phone and incessantly scrolling through election news, worry not. You aren’t alone! There are hundreds of people who currently share the same stressful mood.

Meet doomscrolling.

Yes, indeed, there is a name for this infamous activity. Today, we explore what doomscrolling is, its implications on mental health, and three effective ways to stop doomscrolling.

Keep scrolling!

What is Doomscrolling, Exactly?

Doomscrolling, as the name suggests, is when you habitually scroll through anxiety-causing, disheartening news and social media feeds in an effort to stay up-to-date with the latest information. This makes for a classic case of FOMO.

Oftentimes, those hooked are aware of their anxiety triggers and yet are unable to stop themselves from “doomsurfing” and consuming this information.

This pattern of social media/news consumption surged in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. In fact, psychologists believe it to be a key contributing factor in causing an unprecedented rise in global mental health issues during this year’s lockdown.

Why is Doomscrolling Addictive?

Picture this: You just wrapped up work for the day and decided to unwind on your couch for 15 minutes. You reach for your phone and open your favorite news app. And suddenly run into some breaking headlines on election or pandemic news.

You begin scrolling, and before you know it, hours have gone by!

You feel exhausted, forgot to hydrate, or consciously breathe this whole time; So now, your heart is mildly racing. And you have no idea what just happened.

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar.

Doomscrolling, experts say, can be addictive. Which is exactly what social media and news platforms want you to be – Addicted! Your attention is the basis for their monetization.

At the surface, it might appear that endless scrolling positively contributes to exhaustive research and learning. It might even momentarily quench your curiosity.

However, there is more to doomscrolling than an underlying FOMO. In truth, this desperate search for clarity and the need to stay informed about recent updates is exactly what triggers anxiety.

If scrolling is so unhealthy, why can’t we stop? It’s, unfortunately, not as easy as simply putting our phones down and walking away.

Learn how to detox your digital life by reading 10 Tips to Unplug from the Digital World.

Here’s Why We Get Hooked on Doomscrolling

Many have resorted to doomscrolling as a coping mechanism during this pandemic.

Per psychologist Ken Yeager, learning about uncertainty helps us better prepare to face its outcome. Humanity has been hardwired to be drawn to negativity as part of our survival instinct.

Our conscious brain sends us feedback to stop doomscrolling. However, the subconscious mind that governs our survival instincts takes over and signals us to continue engaging with unhealthy election news. This signal is strengthened by the release of fight-or-flight hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol.

How to Stop Doomscrolling & Stay Tuned In

So, how do you stop? Just toss your phone out the window? Could you possibly live without your phone? Can anybody? Nope! Not going to happen.

This is exactly why we are giving you three ways to maintain your mental health, stop doomscrolling, and still stay tuned to world events.

1. Create a Doomscrolling Log Sheet

A log sheet helps introduce accountability to your everyday habits. Accountability can be an amazing tool to create self-awareness and identify your doomscrolling pattern.

In your journal, create a log sheet for how many times you feel the urge to scroll through the day. Notice if there is a pattern that emerges. What time of the day do you scroll the most? Does boredom make you want to doomsurf?

Remember, the goal is to merely identify a pattern.

Do not shame or judge yourself for your screen time. Radical honesty and self-compassion are vital practices that can help you get to the root of this notorious, all-prevalent habit of 2020.

Read the Social Media Threshold to learn more about how much is too much when it comes to digital information consumption.

2. Schedule Time Slots to Consume News

Set boundaries for consuming news. Restrict your news app usage to a time limit per day. Start a timer when you open an app and stick to it.

Withhold this boundary even when the temptation to reach for your phone kicks in hard. Acknowledge that the struggle is real and be patient with yourself. Keeping one little promise to yourself each day helps combat the addictive urge to doomscroll.

3. Zoom Call Your Friends to Discuss Election News Updates

You can’t live under a rock with everything that is going on currently in 2020. We get it!

We have to be minimally aware of global events at this time. Maybe you acknowledge having election anxiety but also don’t want to be completely cut off from political news at this time.

So what can you do?

One way is to schedule a friendly Friday night virtual hangout with friends and get chatty about the latest election news. Before that, however, be certain that you feel safe within this group to express your opinions.

Communicate your efforts to cut down doomscrolling with your friends. Let them know you are counting on them to catch up and learn about election events.

Doing so can have enormous benefits:

  • Reduces doomscrolling.
  • Helps in bonding with people in a real way.
  • You get updated with all the news minus the screen time.
  • You can help others with their doomscrolling and create an accountability circle where everyone is benefitted.
  • It helps develop a feeling of connection which no amount of social media usage can replace.
  • Great for mental health.

Live in the Moment

In times of crisis, spiraling down a worry loop about the uncertain future merely intensifies existing anxiety. Understanding that the present moment is all we have and all we can control is a good first step to drag your racing mind back to the present moment.

Remember, your mental health is the most important thing you can take care of right now.

Learning how to be mindful is a great way to stop doomscrolling during uncertain times.

Read How to Break Out of a Chronic Worry Loop to learn more about how to handle anxiety.

Anu Sataluri

Anu Sataluri

Anu (short for Anupama) is a clinical researcher by profession. She worked in the healthcare industry for over 7 years, and was responsible for workflow management of clinical trials. During this period, she witnessed several hundred patients walk away in disappointment with "no cure" due to the "symptom-based" approach of Western... Read More

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