Doom scrolling - can’t keep your eyes off bad news? Tips to break the pattern
Doomscrolling is the urge to keep surfing or scrolling through unpleasant news, even when it is saddening, demoralizing, or depressing. It's a behavior that many people have developed as a result of the pandemic and something which is likely to persist. When faced with unpleasant news, one may either avoid any references to it or compulsively research every detail. There was an unquestionable rise in screen time during COVID-19, additionally, there was ample generation of unpleasant news and anxiety around the uncertainty of the situation, therefore, this gave rise to now as we know ‘dooms crolling’. Nothing like a global pandemic to fill your social accounts with unpleasant, disturbing, and worrying stories. In addition, many of us have now developed a repetitive, practice that is hurting our well-being.
No need to wonder anymore about the reason for doomscrolling, it can be caused due to numerous reasons such as
- Humans prefer to fixate much more on bad when they are trying to make sense of the situation, according to research spanning a wide range of psychological experiences. This is called negative bias. The "bad things" are the ones that catch our interest, linger in our minds, and, in many circumstances, affect our judgments. Its a survival strategy learned through evolution.
- When someone wants to comprehend an issue that is ambiguous or has several competing opinions, doomscrolling is common.
- Doomscrolling is a way to take in more information, this helps people to cope with the anxiety caused by uncontrollable situations but in turn, reading more induces more anxiety.
- The desire to doomscroll may be fueled by a lack of self-control when it comes to social media use.
Doomscrolling is more than the desire to be informed about current events, one goes on scrolling even when they know enough about a certain topic, its mindless reading after a point. This phenomenon may be experienced more by those high on neuroticism as they are sensitive to unpleasant emotions.
Reasons to stop doomscrolling
What harm possibly can doomscrolling cause? If you are wondering this, then the answer is - Doomscrolling is linked to feelings of anxiety, dread, and distress. It can also harm your mood and sense of well-being, particularly if it becomes a habit. It has a way of disrupting your sleeping pattern, it impacts your work, and comes in between spending quality time with your social circle as your focus is diverted to consuming ample negative information and then thinking about it. This can increase the chance of developing chronic stress which causes more health problems like cardiac arrest, and high blood pressure. Doomscrolling can have a detrimental effect on your lifestyle.
Its difficult to quit doomscrolling but why not handle it effectively?
- First step, its important to accept the normality of this habit, as information seeking is a coping mechanism during uncertainty.
- Acknowledge your feelings after you doomscroll.
- Keep a stipulated time in a day to consume news. Running away from news completely is not the solution.
- Set boundaries by using productivity apps that will block your selected apps that interfere with your quality of work.
- Be aware of the source from which the news has been generated.
- Remind yourself that the world is not just black and white, there are more perspectives to a situation. In difficult times, cognitive distortions arise where we see things only as right or wrong.
- Use the hack of tilting toward the ‘positive’. To compensate for negative bias, consume some news which are positive in nature
- Be mindful of confirmation bias as at the time of doomscrolling you will look for more negative information that will be in accord with your opinions and reinforce your bias.
- Maintain a gratitude journal and write things you will grateful about.
The situation around us is often uncertain and it's difficult to control the urge to doomscroll. Yet it's important to remember to put our well-being first and in situations like this come back to this article and reread the steps to reinforce the idea.