With all the negativity in the world today, it can feel like all you see are negative news stories. Whether it be through a news site, social media, or a number of other share sites, it can be difficult to find something positive.
But when that becomes all that someone does in a given day, it can become a major problem. This is called doomscrolling and it is something that thousands, if not millions, of people deal with on a daily basis.
What Is Doomscrolling?
Before we can learn how to stop doomscrolling, it helps to know more about what doomscrolling is to begin with. In this day and age of constant connection, it means that we are able to see news stories from around the world at any time.
Because of this availability, it becomes easier than ever to spend all of our time finding those negative stories. What starts as a passing interest can fast become an obsession. It involves frequenting negative news sites, social media platforms, and more.
There is a difference between happenstance and doomscrolling. Someone who partakes in doomscrolling will spend several minutes, if not hours, per day looking into negative news stories. It becomes obsessive.
What Causes Doomscrolling?
Determining the causes of doomscrolling can help shed some light on just why you or someone that you know partakes. There are a few factors that contribute to doomscrolling. These include things like:
Doomscrolling can become particularly pervasive in situations where an individual needs to know about a topic that is either unclear or contains several, conflicting perspectives. There becomes an undying need to gain a better perspective on the topic at hand.
Negativity bias is the inclination to learn from, pay attention to, or even use negative information. Negativity bias is one of the most prevalent factors that influence whether a person will doomscroll.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Doomscrolling can also be closely associated with the fear of missing out. This is a belief that one must be vigilant so that they don’t miss anything of importance or things that they deem important.
This belief can lead to an almost obsessive need to constantly scroll news stories, particularly those with a negative slant.
Some use doomscrolling as a means to manage anxiety or anxiety disorders. What they don’t realize, however, is that the habit often furthers the feelings of anxiety. Reading nothing but negative news stories can bring on a sense of doom and gloom, which only exacerbates their feelings of anxiety.
Lack of Self-control
The need to doomscroll can also be related to a lack of restraint. Depending on the person, there may just be no restraint when it comes to being on social media, which plays a major role in the need to be doomscrolling at all times.
How to Stop Doomscrolling?
So, how are you supposed to learn how to stop doomscrolling? There are five steps in particular that can help those struggling with doomscrolling to break the habit.
Block Out Social Media Time
On average, Americans spend roughly two hours on social media each day. While that seems like a lot, it becomes all too easy to lose time while scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and the litany of other feeds out there.
Because of the ease with which time flies by, it is important to set aside blocks of time for social media each day. Start out trying to limit it to roughly 20 minutes in the morning and another 20 at the end of the day of work.
By setting boundaries, you can limit the intake of negative news stories. This way, there is some measure of being informed without being inundated by the overwhelming negativity that can come with most news stories.
Download Helpful Apps
Even with blocks of time set aside, it can be difficult to stick to those time periods. If you find yourself struggling with keeping those boundaries, there are a plethora of apps out there that may be able to help. Two in particular are worth checking out.
StayFree, which is available not only on your smartphone but your computer, can be used to block certain websites and apps as well as restrict usage. It is basically putting the handcuffs on yourself if you feel like you can’t stay away.
Social Fever is there as well. It tracks your usage on social media apps, allowing you to set daily limits. When those limits have been reached, users get an alarm that lets them know it is time to log off for the day.
Should you find yourself on Twitter or Facebook often, try to form a healthier relationship with those apps. Not only use them less but find stories that have a positive slant instead.
Find a Hobby
One of the biggest reasons that people use social media is because they are bored. When we get bored, it can result in hours of scrolling, which can turn into doomscrolling if we’re not careful. This means that there needs to be an alternative to the scrolling.
If you feel bored, try taking part in activities that you enjoy. This can not only reduce that boredom but help to avoid social media sites where things tend to be most negative. Try to include hobbies that make you feel relaxed or more connected to yourself. Things like reading, hiking, cooking, or art are high up on the list.
Exercise has a ton of benefits and not just for your body. Instead of sitting around in bed or on the couch scrolling all of the negative news stories, you can get up and get active. One of the best recommendations on how to stop doomscrolling is to be active.
Exercising can be a great way to stop with the doomscrolling tendencies because it releases the hormones in your brain that lead to positive thoughts. It can improve your mood, ease anxiety, and even reduce stress hormones.
Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate to physically intense activity every week. This promotes not only good physical health, but good mental health as well. It also means less time spent on devices scrolling through dark news stories.
Find Positive Stories
If you just have to stay on your smartphone or computer looking at stories, then turn your attention away from the stories of danger and catastrophe. Too much negativity can have a major impact, which is why balance is needed.
Finding positive news stories or information that highlights situations that go well can keep the focus from being negative. There are plenty of outlets out there that report positive news stories, which can help to balance out all of the negativity that can come with doomscrolling.
This is one of the major negatives about the media currently. It can feel like the only things available are negative news stories. Feeling inundated with negative stories can almost make it feel like the positive stories do not exist. This only furthers the need to find those positive stories that stand out from the sea of negativity that has become commonplace.
Why Is Doomscrolling Unhealthy?
There are more than a few negative impacts to be felt from doomscrolling. For starters, it has been shown to cause feelings of fear, uncertainty, distress, and apprehension. Not only that, but it also has the potential to damage your sense of well-being and your mood in general.
When doomscrolling becomes a habit, it can lead to higher levels of anxiety, decreased mental health, and increased levels of depression. Focusing on that negative information can also impact your ability to work, disrupt both your schedule and the quality of your sleep, or even get in the way of spending time with family and friends.
There might even be a point where you may feel too stressed to do much of anything. When that happens and the stress is so strong that it feels like you can’t relax, it becomes a major problem. Chronic stress can lead to major health problems like hypertension, heart attack, or stroke.
Additionally, chronic stress can lead to major mental health issues. It is not uncommon to have feelings of doom and gloom, paranoia, and more when seeing nothing but unhealthy, negative news. The further into the doomscrolling one gets, the more difficult it becomes to break away from those feelings.
Doomscrolling has become a serious issue for thousands, if not millions, of people around the world. It seems as though there are nothing but negative news stories to be found, making it easier to further the problem.
Doomscrolling can be difficult to shake. That said, there are a few different strategies and suggestions that can be implemented that can help break those habits and reduce the amount of negativity in your life.