Most of us can relate to this: we get into bed at night to scroll through our phones and see what is happening on social media and the internet. We may think this routine helps us unwind, connects with others, distracts us, and lets us see what our friends and the people we follow are up to or catch up on the recent news. Little do we realize that this self-destructive nighttime behavior is called Doomscrolling.
It’s the act of endlessly scrolling down one’s news apps, Twitter, and social media and reading bad news. It can bring a sense of doom, stress, and anxiety into our lives—something we certainly want to avoid before bedtime. With so much depressing news happening in the world today, it’s easy to get sucked into this kind of behavior.
For the sake of our mental, emotional, and physical health, we need to become more mindful of taking breaks from our phones, constant scrolling, and reading a frenzy of negative news.
Here are ways to help end the cycle of late-night doomscrolling and get this habit under control.
I work mostly with clients who experience anxiety, and part of what I’ve been doing with them for months now is actually setting limits to how much they’re scrolling. And I literally tell them, “Set up a timer.” Only scroll for 5 or 10 minutes. Once the timer goes off, change your scenery and put the phone down. On certain apps, like Instagram, there is a way to set a time limit too.
You want to know what’s happening in the world and to stay informed, so the solution isn’t eliminating screentime, but it’s about finding boundaries.
Going into it, as you pick up your phone, remind yourself why you’re there, what you’re looking for, and what information you’re trying to find. And then periodically check in with yourself, asking “Have I found what I needed? Can I move on with my day or evening now?”
Breaking the Cycle with Positivity:
Bookmark some websites or social media accounts that make you feel good, and when you notice yourself going down the doomscrolling path, open up the positive page or account. Find and follow accounts that bring you joy. There are so many interesting accounts that highlight positivity through topics like art, sports, photography, cooking, psychology, music, and so much more.
We can create physical separation from our device. For example, leaving our phones at home when we go for a walk or run an errand or spend time with family or a friend. When we play, joke, and laugh, our brain gets a feedback message that all is well.
If we want to stay mentally and emotionally healthy, we need to take time to enjoy and relish the good things in life.
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