The word “doomscrolling” became the Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2020 and is described as “ the practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle.”
Maybe you did not know it by that name, but it is likely that you have found yourself caught in a doomscroll cycle. With media able to push updates every second of the day, a general desire to know what’s going on, and a sense of a lack of control turning to media feeds to confirm our unease and displeasure seems almost comforting.
Doomscrolling often leads to:
- a heightened sense of anxiety
- difficulty controlling worry
- trouble sleeping
- a feeling of overwhelm or despair
- a diminished sense of control
The irony of doomscrolling is the appeal of seeming like we are responsibly taking in information, staying informed about events, and controlling our experience of the narrative. However, more often than not, people find that doomscrolling negatively affects their mental health and leads to dysregulation in sleep.
Ways to navigate the desire to doomscroll:
1. Set a boundary with yourself.
Be intentional about where you get your information and avoid going "down the rabbit hole" as you read. Use your time limits on your phone to remind you when you have spent enough time scrolling.
2. Choose the time of day.
Consider the best time of day to consume information. Does scrolling first thing in the morning create stress and annoyance before you have even gotten out of bed? Do you have trouble turning your mind off to sleep if you scroll before bedtime? Be aware of your patterns and choose a time of day where scrolling will have the least impact.
3. Connect with your community.
Rather than leave all the information you consume to the media platforms on your phone or computer, remember to connect with real people in your life. Learn about what they have been doing and how they are viewing and participating in the world. Allow this to be a part of your perspective.
Perhaps it is not so easy to stop doomscrolling or maybe you notice that no matter what limits you set around your media consumption, your mental health continues to struggle. Please reach out to a mental health professional for support and tools. If you are interested in working with our office, we encourage you to make an appointment.