If you’ve ever had difficulty tearing yourself away from a mobile phone app or newsfeed, you’re not alone.
With 24/7 access to news and gossip, it can be all too easy to scroll aimlessly and endlessly through a barrage of bad news. There’s even a name for it: doomscrolling.
And while it might seem like a harmless way to while away the hours, it could be harming your mental health, possibly leading to anxiety if it’s not kept under control.
Keep reading to find out three simple tricks you can employ to stop doomscrolling and protect your mental wellbeing.
1. Think carefully about where you get your news
While the internet provides unlimited opportunities for newsgathering, you’ll probably find you get your main daily news fix from one place. That might be the mobile app belonging to your favourite newspaper, an internet-only news site, or social media like Twitter.
If you opt for an app or online publication, you’ve probably picked the one that most aligns with your political views. This is great for receiving affirmation and confirmation of the views you already hold, but it could also add to a cycle of annoyance, stress, and financial anxiety.
If you find yourself doomscrolling the same sites regularly, try to switch things up and read news from a different outlet. Be sure to start small. Picking an outlet whose views are diametrically opposed to yours and you could find yourself in an even more damaging spiral of doomscrolling and annoyance, so pick carefully!
Some sites are designed to be doom-mongering and shocking exactly to keep you hooked. Alarmist stories, fake news, or purposely skewed facts can become addictive.
Remember too that your habits are tracked online, which means the searches you make and the sites you visit help to perpetuate the cycle. If it’s a cycle of doomscrolling, this can start to feel oppressive and influence your mental health.
Pick your news sites carefully and try to find the good news hidden among the bad!
2. Share your thoughts with others to allay your fears
As well as being a great reason to put your phone down, talking about current affairs with family and friends can help to get things off your chest.
If your loved ones share your views on certain issues you’ll know you are not alone. Conversely, you might be introduced to opinions that are different to yours. Seeing the other side of an argument can give a fresh perspective and could relieve some of your stress.
Healthy debate is good for fleshing out your own opinions, but you might form new, or more nuanced, ones too.
Talking through your concerns about doomscrolling itself could highlight that others are in the same boat. You might work together to develop strategies that will help you all.
Strategies might include encouraging each other to take a break from social media, possibly by giving yourselves a target to aim for. You might agree to ring each for a chat if you find yourself struggling, helping to dig each other out of the virtual rabbit hole of bad news.
Setting a timer before you turn to a new site or access your social media accounts might help too. Take a break when the timer goes off and think about decreasing the time you allow yourself each week. In this way, small changes could start to become new habits.
3. Find a hobby to replace doomscrolling and ditch your phone
News is everywhere in our digital age. This can make it hard to avoid – although avoiding news altogether isn’t necessarily the answer either.
Staying connected with global events is important but it can be done without entering a downward spiral of doomscrolling and worry.
If you’d like to limit the amount of time you spend trawling through bad news, you’ll probably find that your phone is the main barrier you face.
Taking up new hobbies that force you to put your phone down could give you the mental break you need.
Meditation and mindfulness can be great for clearing your mind and resetting. Exercise can help to blow away the cobwebs too, especially if you head outdoors into nature and fresh air.
You might try a local Parkrun, join a gym, or take up swimming. But there are plenty of ways to stay mentally and physically healthy, whatever your fitness level.
Simply arranging a regular walk with a friend could help. Freeing your mind and enjoying being in nature phone- and distraction-free could help you to form new habits. Hopefully, ones that are less reliant on a constant news fix and the addictive world of social media.