Doomscrolling, also known as doom surfing refers to the habit of obsessively scrolling through news and social media, focusing on negative or distressing content such as news about the pandemics, natural disasters, political turmoil, etc. You find that you keep going even when it gets ever more depressing.
It can be driven by a sense of anxiety, fear or even addiction, and can have negative effects on mental health, such as increased stress, anxiety, and depression. The term “doomscrolling” is a play on the term “news scrolling” and reflects the negative emotions and feelings associated with the habit.
The Dangers of Doomscrolling
Doomscrolling can be incredibly detrimental to our mental health. When we’re constantly exposed to negative news and images, it can lead to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, uncertainty, distress and fear. This can increase levels of anxiety and depression, and can even lead to sleep disturbances and physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.
Doomscrolling can also affect our ability to form healthy relationships and engage in productive activities. It can lead to social isolation and can make it difficult to disconnect and relax. It can also lead to a distorted perception of the world, making people believe that the world is a more dangerous place than it actually is.
Causes of Doomscrolling
Doomscrolling can be caused by a variety of factors.
Social media: One major cause is the constant availability of news and social media on our smartphones and other devices. With just a few taps, we can access a seemingly endless stream of information, making it easy to get caught up in a cycle of doomscrolling. Social media apps are also designed to be addictive and keep you scrolling.
Fear of missing out (FOMO): This refers to the fear of missing out on events and news that everyone else will be up to date on. People may feel compelled to check the news constantly in order to stay informed and up-to-date. Additionally, some people may be drawn to negative news because it confirms their existing beliefs or biases. 4 Tips To Ensure That FOMO Does Not Rule Your Life
Negativity bias: This refers to our inclination to pay more attention to bad news.
Anxiety: In a chicken and egg situation to rival the best, people can get caught up in doom surfing because they’re anxious and are using it as a distraction, only to end up more anxious after it. 5 Ways To Deal With Anxiety And Panic Attacks
How to Stop or Manage Doomscrolling
While it can be difficult to completely stop doomscrolling, let’s be reasonable, there are ways to manage and minimize its negative effects. Here are a few tips to help you break the cycle:
Accept: There’s a reason why acceptance is always the first step. Recognize that you have a habit of doing and make plans to stop or reduce it.
Set limits: Set specific times during the day to check the news and stick to them. Use apps or tools that can help you track your screen time and limit your access to certain websites or apps during certain hours.
Take breaks: Take regular breaks from your phone, laptop or tablet and engage in other activities such as reading, exercising or spending time with family and friends.
Seek out positive news: Make an effort to seek out and read news articles that are positive or focus on solutions to problems to balance out all that negativity. You could also train yourself to see the positive in things around you.
Practice mindfulness: Use mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to help ground yourself and manage feelings of anxiety or stress.
If your doomscrolling is causing significant distress or interfering with your daily life, consider seeking help from a mental health professional.
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