It’s past midnight and your thumbs don’t show signs of stopping any time soon. The endless scrolling, swiping, clicking more links, simping accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. Ever since the pandemic put a stop to socializing, dining out and in general going out for fun, most people’s evening rituals have been locked in. Each night ends in the way the day begins, with an endless scroll through social media. This perverse habit of excessive use of screens while hopping on and off the same 3-4 social media platforms is called ‘Doomscrolling’. So how bad is it?
Doomscrolling Or Doomed-Scrolling?
The exercise of falling into deep, morbid rabbit holes filled with coronavirus or COVID-19 content, agitating yourself to the point of physical discomfort, erasing any hope of a good night’s sleep and constantly comparing yourself and your life to what you see on social media is doomscrolling in a nutshell.
A late-night scroll is nothing new, most therapists suggest cutting down screen time as the first step towards most treatment plans. But lately, it’s common to find yourself scrolling through details about a disturbing news piece.
The News Obsession
Being at home makes it easy to turn on the TV and stay glued to it all day long. With a section of the media sensationalising the news for TRPs and traffic, we can lose the sense of reality. And this pushes us deeper into a panic frenzy, that’s just not good.
Why do we keep doomscrolling when we know it’s bad? Experts explain that though humans are naturally predisposed to look out for threats, doomscrolling creates a vicious mental health cycle. The more time you spend scrolling, the more you find those dangers, the more you get sucked into them, the more anxious you get. Now you look around yourself and everything feels gloomy, everything makes you anxious. So you go back to look for more information.
Mental Health First
There is nothing wrong with seeking information and staying informed. But when you get caught in hours and hours of reading negative stories, it can give an exaggerated sense of threat and increase the feelings of danger and vulnerability. Those who engage in extended media consumption tied to the trauma are more likely to develop mental health problems later, like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depressive disorders, compared to people who place limits on their negative media consumption.
Here’s how you can combat this burst of gloomy thoughts and pessimistic outlook by taking care of your mental health. There are some digital communities you can reach out to for help and support during this time, click here to find out.
10 Ways To Avoid Doomscrolling
- Keep yourself updated at regular intervals with the news but set a timer to keep yourself reeled in.
- Track the impact that time spent scrolling through news is having on your mood, sleep and overall health.
- Stick to credible and reliable sources only. Surfing news channels all day long will fill you up with garbage that might not even be true.
- Install an app that alerts you when you spend too much time on your phone or helps restrict time spent on certain social media platforms.
- WhatsApp forwards are just like Chinese whispers. Do not rely on social media for important information.
- Plan other activities that take you away from the phone and other devices when you would normally be doomscrolling.
- Visit the WHO website or the government healthcare website for valid information.
- Engage in new activities, hobbies and socializing, if the situation permits, like taking a walk with a friend, baking, even enjoying a nap.
- Avoid sharing any and every piece of information that comes your way. This may send others into a frenzy.
- Try and change the meaning of that feeling of uncertainty that motivates the anxiety and extra vigilance and perceives it as possible signs of threat.
TC46’s Guide To Staying Emotionally Strong In 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic, wherein many are still in lockdown or self-isolating, affects mental health substantially. Though the mental health implications of this unprecedented situation will impact everyone differently, it is vital to create a roadmap of your mental and emotional status. Here are some ways you can stay emotionally strong. To learn more on how to deal with pandemic blues and bad news, click here.
1. Stay Connected Digitally
Allow yourself some quality time to get on video calls with your loved ones. For those of you in relationships, connect with your partner and keep the relationship going strong with calls and video calls. With work calls, even though audio calls are fine, suggest a day or two in the week where everyone gets ready and enables the video button.
2. Stick To A Routine
Follow your dream skincare and haircare routine. Create a separate work area if you are working from home. Do not give up your daily in-house chores or activities like gardening, meditation, religious tasks.
3. Clear The Chaos
Do a Marie Kondo and clear the chaos in your house as well as your mind. Keep your living space as tidy and clean as you can. A cluttered space is an invitation to claustrophobia. Set up mental zones and stick to those for the designated activities.
4. Deal With Anxiety & Depression
Contact your therapist and ask for a session over a phone call if you can’t visit them. You can attend a group therapy session online and get some relief. Remember to reach out if you need help and have a conversation with a loved one who understands the situation.
If you are struggling with doomscrolling that causes anxiety, depression, or is part of internet addiction, or you are dealing with other mental health challenges during this time, reach out for help. Here are some resources to help you keep your mental health in check and here are tips to stay sane while dealing with pandemic anxiety. The reality is that you can’t avoid how intense things are right now. But doomscrolling on the regular isn’t doing your physical or mental health any favours. This is the time for everyone to be really mindful of what we’re doing, and to try to do better. And if that includes putting your phone away once in a while, let’s do it!