Amid coronavirus, there has been a substantial increase in people excessively checking in online or through social media to read depressing news updates. This includes obsessively receiving updates on COVID-19 infection cases, political news, crime rates, and others. Experts are saying that the habit, called “Doom Scrolling,” makes people unnecessarily anxious and that constantly scrolling through negative news can be toxic, especially before bedtime.
With the majority of the country still on lockdown, it’s easy to get dragged into the habit of Doom Scrolling, especially with so many facing uncertainties like job security and fear of becoming ill. However, it’s important to learn how and when to put the phone (or laptop) down and focus on helpful habits to break negative patterns.
Below are some tips on how to limit Doom Scrolling.
● Set a timer
● It’s smart to stay informed about the world and what’s going on around you, however, the 24/7 news cycle can be an information overload. Reading too many negative news articles can impact mental health over time and it’s important to set a limit for how much news you intake each day. Setting a timer when reading updates is important so you have the ability to focus on the other, more positive areas of your life.
● Be mindful of when you pick up the phone
● It’s important to note when and why you are picking up the phone to read the news. Be mindful of why you feel the urge to scroll, it could be that you’re tired, procrastinating or have anxiety. Make sure you aren’t scrolling through your phone just to fill the time and if you are, it means that you aren’t being present in your everyday life. Practice being intentional about when you allow yourself to read the news.
● Replace the habit with something positive
● Scrolling on your phone and seeing only negative articles can impact you more than you know. If you find yourself doing this out of habit and not out of a need, its time to consider new hobbies. Instead, practice mindful and self-care habits like taking your dog for a walk, journaling, phoning a friend, or taking a bath.
If you are experiencing mental health issues due to Doom Scrolling or other factors, it’s important to consult with a mental health professional. A certified mental health expert will be able to work with you to find the root cause of your concerns and teach you positive tools to combat feelings of depression or anxiety.
Dr. Kasey Nichols is a trained physician and specializes in mental health. His previous work experience includes two years in executive roles as the Director of Medical Operations at a national SUD treatment organization. During the past few years, he has presented to large professional groups, including the Kansas Bar Association on addiction-related issues. Dr. Nichols is also a member of the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association (AzNMA), a professional organization of Naturopathic Doctors in the state of Arizona. The vision of AzNMA is to ensure the growth of naturopathic medicine through recognition and education. For more information about AzNMA, visit AZNMA.org.