Many people enjoy watching funny cat videos on social media, and some are addicted to sad or depressing news. Whether it’s a war in another country or crimes happening nearby, it’s not easy to ignore negative news. If you read news online, you will come across stories that may upset you. But some people feel like just scrolling through negative information on digital platforms. This is called doomscrolling and it can affect your mental health. Read on to learn how to stop doomscrolling.
A 2022 study published in the journal Health Communication showed that 16.5% of participants had a “severely problematic” habit of consuming negative information. Research suggests that those who engage more with bad news suffer “greater mental and physical ill-being” than those who read negative news less. In the study, stress, anxiety and depression were cited as examples of “unhappiness”.
Dr. Rahul Rai Kakkar, Visiting Consultant, Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram explains that doomscrolling is the habit of endlessly and compulsively scrolling through social media, news sites or other online platforms for consuming a constant stream of negative or distressing information. This content typically revolves around topics such as disasters, crises, pandemics, tragedies, and political unrest. The term doomscrolling, popular since 2018, is derived from the feeling of impending doom that such continuous exposure to distressing news can create.
What makes people engage in doomscrolling?
There are many factors that can cause people to want to doom scroll.
1. Fear of missing out (FOMO)
People are often afraid of being excluded or missing critical information, so they keep scrolling to stay informed and end up consuming more bad news.
As humans, we have a natural curiosity about the world, which can lead us to seek out and consume information, even if it is painful and upsetting.
3. Stress relief
Paradoxically, some people engage in doomscrolling to distract themselves from their own stress or anxieties by focusing on external problems, the expert explains.
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4. Addictive nature of social media
Social media platforms can be highly addictive, with endless scrolling features that keep users engaged. While some love scrolling through their favorite celebrities, others search for the bad news.
How doomscrolling affects mental health
Constantly reading negative news can take a toll on your mental and physical health.
• Constant exposure to negative news can increase levels of anxiety and stress.
• Prolonged doom scrolling can lead to feelings of hopelessness and hopelessness.
• Performing this behavior before bed can disrupt sleep patterns.
• Stress and anxiety resulting from doomscrolling can have a negative impact on physical health.
Tips to Stop Doomscrolling
Doomscrolling is not good for your health, so you should try to stop doing it.
1. Set deadlines
Checking videos or news online can take a lot of time. Time flies when you’re on your phone or laptop. So plan specific times to browse the news or social networks. You can use apps or phone settings to set daily time limits for these activities.
2. Organize your feeds
Unfollow or mute social media accounts or pages that consistently share distressing content. Curate your social media feed to include more positive or neutral content, suggests Dr. Kakkar.
3. Designate sources of information
Choose reputable news sources and if you want, you can subscribe to their email newsletters or apps. This way you can receive organized updates instead of constant scrolling.
4. Turn off notifications
Whether it’s a new message, mail, or social media update, our phone never stops ringing. Simply turn off non-essential notifications to reduce the temptation to constantly check your phone.
5. Practice mindfulness
Be aware of when you are scrolling past doom and consciously choose to redirect your attention to something more positive or more productive. Practicing mindfulness can be a big help.
6. Create a Before-Bedtime Routine
Establish a calming before-bed routine that doesn’t involve phone or computer screens. You can read a book, meditate, or take a warm bath to help you sleep better.
7. Stay informed in moderation
Being informed about what’s going on around you is essential, but balance is key. Set a specific time each day to follow the news without overdoing it.
8. Practice physical activities
Regular exercise will help you stay fit. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety, making it easier to resist the urge to doom scroll, the expert says.
9. Connect with others
Instead of passively consuming online news, discuss important events with friends or family members to get different perspectives and emotional support when needed.
If doomscrolling becomes a serious addiction that is negatively impacting your life, you should seek help from a mental health professional.