Scrolling endlessly on our phones is nothing new for most us, but our incessant, and destructive, social media spiral has undoubtably been perpetuated even further by the pandemic.
With people struggling to sleep, or battling poor mental health due to the stress and anxiety of the current situation, many of us are finding that our scrolling only leads to an even more impending feeling of doom as we involuntarily devour bad news en-masse.
The phenomenon has been dubbed 'doomscrolling', a new term used online to describe the act of seeking out and reading bad news. According to many psychologists, the need to collect this information during a crisis is hardwired into human biology, it's our inherent — but misjudged —survival instinct.
If you think you might have fallen victim to doomscrolling recently, we spoke to top therapist and Counselling Directory member, Frances Taylor to find out what it actually is and how you can break the habit and improve your mental health.
Why is it called doomscrolling?
By getting caught in a cycle of constant doomscrolling, we can disconnect from our reality, and forget the more positive events in life. It becomes like other bad habits - hard to stop but with negative impact.
We convince ourselves it's all doom and gloom, and the feelings experienced are those attributed as bad. We can start the day worrying about death, loss, anxieties, and fears. Losing the ability to connect with more positive events affects our mental health and general mood. Life can feel a challenge; it’s a chore to get through the day.
Why might doomscrolling be on the up at the moment?
This generation has not lived through a pandemic or similar event with so much uncertainty. The lack or routine during COVID has affected the ability to focus on better memories and experiences. Lockdown has had a huge impact on wellbeing, feeling trapped in an environment, and the lack of control felt as a result.
Many people are fixated on information nowadays sent via our mobiles or social media accounts, and a pull to stay online.
Seeing constant 'doom' facts and figures, deaths, and losses has made people feel more powerless. It has in turn given many people too much free time to doomscroll. Media and social media has had more presence during COVID than at times of previous wars/strikes/past actions in Western society.
What can you do to stop scrolling?
To take control and implement boundaries over personal use of the internet and social media. Limiting times when you are connected. Turning off notifications on your mobile phone is very helpful. You won’t feel so compelled to respond or look through the latest updates. Likewise, setting times in the day to check the internet or social media, and closing the tabs outside of these times.
It can help doing a more tangible task. It could be going for a walk, exercising, cooking, creative words or craft, talking on the telephone to a friend, checking in on family members. By setting these boundaries, it creates other, more positive ways to fill time and calm the mind.
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