Sponsored by Saint Peter’s Healthcare System
You pick up your phone or log on to your laptop. Before you know it, you’re immersed in the worst news of the day, from COVID-19 deaths to political turmoil.
Social media, health experts, and others have been using a new term for being drawn to disaster online: doomscrolling. The experience can make you feel anxious, sad, and uncertain about the future.
Still, it can be hard to stop. Doomscrolling often kicks off a negative cycle. The intense emotions this behavior brings on make it more difficult to sleep, eat, and focus on daily activities. You may then head back online, hoping to regain a sense of control and ease your anxieties.
The solution isn’t to ignore important news or disable your Wi-Fi. Instead, rein in the online negativity with these healthy tips.
- Track your time. Use an app or paper log to note exactly how long you’re on your screens and where you’re spending those hours. Ask yourself if the results align with what you find most meaningful.
- Set a schedule. Don’t keep social media and news sites open all the time. Instead, designate specific times during the day to read the news or check your feeds.
- Avoid alerts. Turn off notifications and keep your apps on silent. Try consuming some news via traditional outlets—such as newspapers—instead.
- Clean your feed. Notice which people and sites make you feel the most anxious or sad. Mute, unfollow, or stay away online. Instead, seek out communities or causes that inspire joy and connection. This might be an online group related to a hobby or culture, or an app to communicate with faraway friends.
- Offset screen time. Balance the time you spend on social media with offline activities to reduce stress. These include getting together with friends, walking on a trail, or practicing deep breathing exercises.
Finally, give thanks. Gratitude has been shown to improve mood and increase resilience. Use your feeds to post daily lists of positive experiences. Or spread joy by, for instance, leaving positive online restaurant reviews.
Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2021
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