Doomscrolling is unhealthy for your mental and physical health. Break the daily habit by following the 7 Ways to Quit Doomscrolling Now.
Doomscrolling is the act of continuously reading negative news on social media or the internet. It has become a habit and pastime during the pandemic. People who used to be extremely busy, now have extra time in their hands. They unconsciously spend hours staring at their smartphones or computer screens for the latest news update.
Most of the time, the news is negative and reflects the current state of the pandemic onslaught. Sickness, unemployment, family trouble, and death are the themes in articles and blog posts. When a person gets hooked on reading negative news, it turns into a need to stay updated. Feelings of nervousness, panic, and anxiety are the predominant emotions that linger after reading the newsfeed.
Just like watching a suspense thriller, the reports keep the person on the edge of the seat. You need to stop reading bad news if thoughts of doom, despair, and hopelessness occupy your mind. Here are seven ways to avoid the addictive habit of doomscrolling.
1. Check the Sites You Visit
Before you start reading a post, check the site where the information comes from. A quick fact-check on Google will inform you if the website, blog, or article is from a legitimate source or a questionable site. Fact Checkers are composed of different journalistic groups that investigate an issue to verify facts.
Journalists, writers, and opinion-makers have what psychologists refer to as selective perception. They categorize, analyze and select stimuli from the environment that are meaningful and relevant. But they block what contradicts their beliefs or expectations. Reporters should give an accurate statement of facts, biases, and opinions, but that does not happen all the time. There are truth-tellers as well as truth-twisters.
Below are quick guides to spot a questionable site:
- Check the authors and their credentials in the About link at the bottom of the website’s landing or home page.
- Pay close attention to the domain name or URLs that end in .co or .lo attached to a well-known name, organization, or institution.
- Some spoofed URLs have a variant of a well-known name that is misspelled or has an extension on the official name like .infonet, .offer, .com, .org
- Be wary of sensational headlines using capital letters or emotional language.
- Investigate the source of an article that cites a study and check its bona fides.
- Take note of the date published and in what context.
- Check if the format is breaking news because flash reports develop into a bigger picture.
2. Resist Reading a Dubious Article
From the beginning of the post, you will get clues on the direction of the article. Some will start on the neutral voice then unfold in a positive or negative narrative. Determine if your reading material is a news site, news reporting, editorial, feature story, review, op-ed, comment, or guest blog.
Keep in mind that fake news, satire, or conspiracy theories have a shock value that catches the reader's attention. It incites fear or anger that makes your hardwired brain crave the latest updates. Avoid getting hooked on these exciting posts, approach the article critically.
- Control your emotional reaction.
- Assess the motive behind the post or story.
- Is the article trying to persuade you of an opinion or viewpoint?
- Is it promoting a product or service?
- Does it lead to another website?
The line of fact and opinion becomes muddled with the influence of social media. A post aligned with popular belief will get a tidal wave of a thumbs-up reaction. But if it is contrary to the mainstream views, expect a tsunami of derogatory statements and character attacks.
Consider the following before you read an article or forward a link to your contacts.
- If a forwarded article is reused many times, it has the elements of suspicious content that may be a hoax or fake news.
- When a piece of social media news is unverified from other informational sources, it is considered questionable.
- If the use of images or pictures is photoshopped, edited, or manipulated, it is inauthentic.
- If there is an announcement from an institutional organization but not seen on the official web page, it is a doctored fake message.
- If the author or so-called expert has no professional experience or expertise, the news does not come from a legitimate authority.
3. Do a Phone Time Out
Phone checking is the first thing everyone does in the morning and throughout the day. It is a habit that should stop, and the initial step is to unglue your phone from your body. Get used to freeing your hand of any device and setting it aside.
While the smartphone is your link to the outside world, limit activity from social media or news posts. Take measures to schedule a time out from your phone.
- Set the alarm to switch off your phone an hour before sleeping.
- Use the apps to update you on your total screen time daily.
- Establish house rules like no gadgets during meals.
If all else fails, then do a complete detox from your phone or computer by shutting it off completely. Assign a designated person at home to keep both gadgets locked away, so you do not succumb to temptation.
4. Set Browsing Time for Phone Checking
Carve out time within the day to check on social media. Give a 15-20 minute view time, then discipline yourself to put the phone down until the next scheduled browse time. Doing this allows you to finish your tasks, squeeze in a quick view, then go back to your chores.
If you detect that you are getting pulled into an anxiety zone, force yourself to nip it in the bud. While you try to ignore news updates, limit it to twice a day and focus on two verified sources. This ensures you are reading from an objective source of information and not from a satire or conspiracy post.
5. Turn Off Push Notifications
There are notification settings that alert you when a newsfeed, tweet, or post is published or sent out on social media. Avoid reading these at a busy hour or when you are stressed or anxious. Treat the notification as a disruption to productivity and efficiency that you should limit to a minimum.
The different sites aim to raise their clickbait ratings and do this with stories that are shock-worthy. You get lured into reading the feed and continue with the story updates. It is best to control your exposure to the noise of alarmist headlines to avoid distraction.
You can practice out of sight, out of mind to give your thoughts a rest. You live in the present and do not need to overthink the past or worry about the future.
6. Assess Your Mental Pulse
There is a mind and body connection that affects a person’s physical illness and wellness. You cannot separate the emotional patterns because your body reacts to the way you feel and think. Your mental well-being starts with how you handle positive and negative events of your life.
- Marriage and Divorce
- Promotion and Lay-off
- Birth and Death
When you read a news feed, be mindful of how an article affects you. Optimistic news makes you feel energized, inspired and excited for possibilities. But doomsday reports and deaths cause an anxious and fearful reaction. Learn to handle the information you read when it becomes overwhelming.
Recognize how you react to a news piece or blog post. Did reading cause your emotions to shift from indifference to anxiety or sadness? By consciously examining your mental pulse, you determine the triggers that cause a negative reaction.
- What tweets, headlines, or posts caused a negative effect?
- How has what you read affected you?
- Did you notice any behavioral changes like being upset, depressed, or avoidance from people around you?
7. Practice a Peaceful Bedtime Routine
A peaceful and deep sleep starts a few hours before you settle down in your bed. If you aim to get a good night's sleep and wake up rested, your bedtime routine should be calm and peaceful. Meditation during the day welcomes quietness in the chaotic world.
But a few bedtime routines can give you a nice restful sleep.
- Smartphones should be tucked away from your bed.
- Settle down 30 minutes before your target bedtime hour.
- Play soft calming music instead of leaving the TV on.
- Dim the lights or darken the room to activate your melatonin hormone.
- Use aromatherapy and essential oils to scent the room with relaxing fragrances like lavender and cedarwood.
- Say a prayer, meditate or consciously think of positive and uplifting thoughts.
- Visualize restful scenes or peaceful experiences that will make you calm.
Do yourself a favor by protecting your mental sanity and physical condition. Save time and effort by reading newsfeeds on a limited basis. At the end of a heavy and problematic piece, you can switch the material to a positive article that will uplift and give you a good feeling.
You aim to have a happy end to your day, not ruminate on a disturbing footnote that will affect you later on. Do not wait until things get worse. The best time to quit doomscrolling is NOW!
© 2021 Marissa ST