You and your well being; how to stop doomscrolling

Dementia Care
April 8, 2021

Are you being sucked into a never-ending ‘doomscroll’ at the moment? Here is some advice to help you put your phone down and look after your well-being.

I take a look at my phone and check the latest news and what I have missed on Twitter. Notice the terminology there; what I have missed as this is how it feels if I don’t keep up to date with what is going on in the wider world.

The more I saw, the more I scrolled getting involved with threads on Twitter that really wouldn’t make a huge difference to my day, but I just felt that once I had started a thread I needed to know more, see what others had said and of course came cross comments that would darken my mood.

Does this sound familiar?

Doomscrolling and doomsurfing are new terms referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back. This is an activity that has risen in popularity as we seem to navigate disaster after disaster following the coronavirus outbreak.

So why do we do it?

The main reason is as a way of feeling in control in a world that feels so out of control all the time. So it is though that if we know what’s happening, we can be better prepared when things get bad as a reason for doomscrolling.

At its core, doomscrolling is a totally human reaction to what we’re going through. When stressful things are happening in our lives our primitive brain takes over, and it’s concerned with keeping us alive above all else. This can lead to us scanning for danger, putting ourselves on high alert for anything that could be perceived as a threat.

Mental health experts have stated that the practice can be detrimental to mental health.

Physical and psychological effects

Previous research has already shown a link between excessive social media use and increased feelings of depression and loneliness.

Fixating on a deluge of news and social media during a pandemic only raises the risk of negative mental health effects.

Given that mental health is connected to physical health, it’s no surprise that negative habits such as doomscrolling negatively affect the physical body, from interfering with sleep to creating a craving for comfort food and overeating. In the long term, doomscrolling can increase levels of cortisol and adrenaline, both of which are stress hormones. Research routinely shows that chronic levels of elevated stress hormones are associated with many physical health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

How to stop doomscrolling

We know this response is a perfectly natural and human one, but that doesn’t mean we should feed into it. If you’re finding yourself getting sucked into this kind of behaviour, it’s time to get more intentional with your online habits – here’s how:

  • Make your mornings sacred
  • Use a separate alarm, not your phone
  • Allocate time for phone checking and set a time limit or avoid social media
  • Check in with yourself more often
  • Find another activity to replace doomscrolling
  • Visit uplifting sites
  • Practice gratitude to gain that balance

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