Many of us experienced quarantines during 2020, which abruptly left us home for much longer periods than normal. During this time of social isolation, there was a collective uptick in time spent online.
Boredom, readily accessible social media, and bad news joined forces to create a new term: doomscrolling. Loosely defined as habitually reading bad news or disturbing content for extended periods of time, doomscrolling is a hot topic right now due to its societal prevalence and impact.
Going down depressing internet rabbit holes on your mobile device or computer didn’t start with COVID-19, but the social isolation of the pandemic made it a new or worse habit for many people. It can have multiple negative effects on your mental and emotional health, including the following:
- Emotional burnout from unrelenting bad news
- Anxiety and stress
- Feelings of helplessness
Constant consumption of negative news is proven to be bad for you, but doomscrolling can be a hard habit to break. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help limit your intake of heavy content. You can localize the behavior by only getting on social media or scrolling the news at certain times and places in your day (not in bed at night, for example). Practice mindfulness when you pick up your phone – think about why you’re picking it up instead of doing it compulsively. Think about what you’re feeling when you’re online and why you feel that way. Most importantly, make a habit of disconnecting. Set your phone down and take a walk outside. If you’re feeling the itch to read something, pick up a hard-copy book or magazine.
There’s no reason to trap yourself down a well of negative feelings. These simple steps, practiced daily, can help you feel better about the world and yourself.