How many times have you settled in to unwind for the evening, picked up your phone for a “quick check” of the news and social media, then somehow an hour goes by and you’re left with a sense of dread? It’s common practice for a lot of us and there’s even a name for it: “doomscrolling.” It’s the habit of consuming the doom and gloom news that leaves us feeling anxious, afraid and helpless. The good news? While we can’t control a lot of what’s going on in the world, we can make intentional choices about the digital content we read. There’s a fine line between staying informed and doomscrolling and this is how to stay on the right side of it for your mental health.
- Establish boundaries – Fight the urge to check the news and social media throughout the day and set limits on how often you check them and for how long, then stick to them.
- Listen to your body – If you’re scrolling and feel anxious as in shallower breathing, headaches, tight muscles or other physical signs of stress – that’s your cue to unplug.
- Find ways to engage socially – A lot of us are engaging more with our devices these days to help us deal with prolonged social isolation, but there are other ways to do that in real life. Go for a socially-distanced walk with a friend, either in-person or while on the phone. Make phone dates to check in and connect with your besties and talk to them about your efforts to stop doomscrolling.
- Don’t be afraid to mute or unfollow – Take control of your feed by muting or unfollowing the accounts that leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
- Disconnect before bed – It’s harder to get the solid sleep you need when you get all worked up by scrolling through your phone right before bedtime, so try to cut it off at least an hour before.
- Do things that soothe your body and mind – Get outside in nature, work on a puzzle, practice yoga, light candles, treat yourself to fresh flowers, or anything else that brings you joy and peace.
- End your day with a gratitude list – Make a list of what you’re thankful for so you can switch your focus to what you appreciate today, instead of the overwhelming things going on in the world. Remember you got this, and maybe most importantly, put your phone down.