Concentrated couple looking at their smartphones

What Is Doomscrolling And How Can We Stop?

With the pandemic’s arrival and the announcement of quarantines, the world has collectively developed mutual habits, one of which is doomscrolling. We’ve all been there: compulsively checking our social media at multiple intervals throughout the day, hoping to fish some good news, but instead, we get sucked into a vortex of bad news, a never-ending rabbit hole that slowly chips away at our mental health.

Coined in 2018 but gaining prominence amidst quarantine, the portmanteau “doomscrolling” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the tendency to continue to scroll through bad news”. Contrary to the popular belief that humans will stop when confronted with less-than-satisfying news, we actually allow ourselves to be eroded by the vicious cycle of refreshing, reading, and worsening.


If you find yourself falling victim to doomscrolling, fear not, for there are several ways you can sever ties with this unproductive and detrimental addiction.


1. Phones Away!

Many of us reach for our phones the moment we wake up and the last moments before bed. Sure, there is the justification that we’re only trying to stay abreast about global events, but is that beneficial if it’s costing us our sanity? Instead, put your phones out of reach; if you need to, stow it away in the kitchen! The greater the distance, the better.


2. Only Check Intentionally

Concentrated couple scrolling through their smartphones

Most of us check our phones compulsively, meaning we don’t have a reason to do so, we just unlock it for the sake of unlocking it. This is perhaps the toughest change to implement in the list, but it will be the most rewarding in the long-run. Access your device only when there is something you have to accomplish on it (e.g. call someone, reply to an email, take a photo). Once that is done with, back in your pocket it goes! You will derive larger satisfaction and also reduce anxiety by doing things intentionally instead of compulsively.


3. Use Social Media Proactively

Interact on social media proactively instead of passively scrolling. If you’re going to kill time on your phone anyway, make sure you reap the benefits. See news that is rather depressing? Find out ways which you can help, be it through making donations, signing petitions, or raising awareness. This turns what was once mindless scrolling into something productive and overall helpful to society. You’ll also feel better through your day knowing you have aided someone.


4. Limit Your Scrolling

Woman scrolling on her laptop

We are capable of losing ourselves with each swipe of the thumb because there are no alarms to go off when we’re in too deep. The only cure to this ailment is to create an alarm of your own. Literally. Set a timer for 15 minutes whenever you start scrolling and put your phone away immediately when the sand in the hourglass runs out. While this method still makes allowance for doomscrolling, cutting yourself off before you begin the descent into madness can lessen the ‘doom’ of it all.


5. Listen to Your Body

When you get agitated or anxious reading about disappointing issues, that is your body’s way of telling you to put the news down and get some rest. Mental health issues often happen as an accumulation of us not listening to the needs of our bodies. So, put that device away and do something you love. Take a walk to cool off, paint some abstract art to let the creative juices flow, whatever floats your boat and does not require a phone should be a-okay!

When she's not creating content for her blog and YouTube or procrastinating, Allison can be found tucked away in a corner reading, songwriting, or making a mean cup of iced chocolate. She will be pursuing Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Manchester in fall 2021.

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