What Is “Doomscrolling” And How Do You Stop It From Harming Your Mental Health?
Stay informed without sacrificing your sanity
2020 is the year of doom. Let’s face it, with the surplus of disenchanting and infuriating headlines, a term actually had to be created to describe our response to the times: doomscrolling.
Scour through the dictionary and you’ll find a new word created precisely because of the era of coronavirus. Doomscrolling, also doom-scrolling, refers to our tendency to scroll relentlessly on our smartphones for the latest news that bring us gloom and…you guessed it, doom. Tommy Siegel shared an illustration in April as an idiot-proof way to make sense of the times. A similar term, doomsurfing, evolved from the same idea, this time, referring to our compulsive need to scour the internet for news we know will upset us—without wanting to step back.
ahhh, bedtime in quarantine pic.twitter.com/FLxHUJOsCk
— Tommy Siegel (@TommySiegel) April 27, 2020
We’re guilty of both. If we’re not too cautious as we plummet into this blackhole of darkness, we might just not come back from it. We might even end up making an impossible period of terror and uncertainty….worse—if that’s even possible—most especially for our mental health.
Screen time has skyrocketed in quarantine for obvious reasons. We’re at home without much supervision (well, for adults, at least) and self-isolating with our screens as companions. We’re also distracting and numbing ourselves with a steady influx of information, no matter how dreadful it is.
How do we take control of our mental health and avoid doomscrooling and doomsurfing?
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Take a step back when needed.
Mental health breaks, cleanses, or whatever you want to call it, are important. Flee away from the temptation to get sucked in the mind-numbing digital vortex through seemingly harmless scrolling time. Of course, this doesn’t excuse anyone from staying completely ignorant to pressing news and matters around them; but there are just days when it’s necessary to take a step back and acknowledge that the weight of the world is not yours to carry.
Avoid consuming information mindlessly.
When you feel overwhelmed, take a break and refocus on other things even if it’s through reading a paperback, trying a new recipe, just anything to keep your mind busy. It doesn’t even have to be a productive use of time!
Have healthy boundaries when it comes to your relationship with gadgets.
If you need to download an app to limit your doomscrolling, do it for the sake of your mental health. If you can, leave your phone for 30 minutes or a full hour in a day.
If you do need to spend an unhealthy amount of time online, find a healthy balance; you can actually stay informed without sacrificing your sanity.
Art Alexandra Lara