‘Doomscrolling’ Is Bad For Your Health, And Here’s How to Successfully Stop It

You know how it goes: you go online to look up “just one thing,” like the number of new coronavirus cases in your hometown. But one click leads to another, and soon you’re reading about the economic crash, record unemployment, and politicians in denial about the severity of the pandemic. When your bleary eyes finally look away from your screen, you realize hours have passed by, during which you consumed dozens of horrific news stories.

This phenomenon has a name. It’s “doomscrolling,” and anyone with an internet connection has experienced it in the past few months. But you don’t have to let bad news rule your life – or ruin your day.

But first, let’s understand why we engage in a behavior that is so detrimental to our mental health and well-being. As clinical psychologist Dr. Amelia Aldao explained to NPR: “Our minds are wired to look out for threats. The more time we spend scrolling, the more we find those dangers, the more we get sucked into them, the more anxious we get.”

Even worse, the constant consumption of bad news can change our perception. “Now you look around yourself, and everything feels gloomy, everything makes you anxious,” Dr. Aldao said. “So you go back to look for more information.”

To break this vicious cycle, Dr. Aldao has a few tips. First, set a timer before you start scrolling to help you limit your intake of bad news. Next, stay cognizant of what you’re consuming and why (so you don’t end up reading scary stories about coronavirus when what you meant to check on was the weather forecast) by asking, “Is this what I was looking for?” Finally, swap feel-good content and experiences for bad vibes. (If you need a place to start, check out our Inspire section.)

Doomscrolling can be addictive, but it doesn’t have to control you. Refocus, power down, and remember that there are still some positive things in the world.

Cover Photo: CiydemImages (Getty Images)

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