Doomscrolling – how is it affecting our mental health?

We've found practical ways to stop doomscrolling


by Lucy Brown |

Have you found that your constant social media scrolling is leaving you feeling deflated and anxious? Yeah, we’ve all been there. Well, this phenomenon has been coined doomscrolling, which is when people mindlessly scroll through negative content online.

So here's everything you need to know about doomscrolling and how to stop doing it.

What is Doomscrolling?

Doomscrolling is when people mindlessly scroll through continuous negative news articles, social media posts, or other content-sharing platforms. This term became prominent in 2020 during the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic and has since stuck around during political tensions and injustices.

For many, doomscrolling is like going down a rabbit hole, where you can’t stop scrolling and it results in you getting caught up in the negative news cycle. Sometimes people aren’t even aware they are doing it - you know when you simply Google one thing and then hours later you find yourself looking at something completely different, unsure of how you got there. That’s absolutely fine when you’re looking at harmless things like cute videos of cats, but when you’re digesting so much negative news subconsciously, it can begin to take a toll on your mental health.

How does doomscrolling affect our mental health?

Doomscrolling is a harmful habit that can be detrimental to your mental health, particularly if it is already something that you struggle with.

Constantly consuming bad news can lead to catastrophising and always thinking of worst-case scenarios. It can also make you focus on the negative aspects of the world, leading you to neglect the positives.

Not only can it affect your mental health but, in some instances, doomscrolling can also impact your physical health. In any stressful situation your body naturally has a physical response, this is no different when it comes to doomscrolling. While yes, it is seen as somewhat of a low-level stress, but doomscrolling can actually lead to our body kicking into overdrive and releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Signs you might be doomscrolling

The hardest part of stopping doomscrolling is realising that you’re doing it in the first place. Here are some tell-tale signs that you might need a break from your phone.

  • The majority of the media you’ve been consuming is negative.

  • Once you start scrolling you can’t stop.

  • You end up reading articles and have no idea how you ended up there.

  • You constantly feel the urge to check the news because you feel like you’ll miss something.

  • Your mental and physical health is starting to be impacted by the negativity you are reading.

How can we stop doomscrolling?

The moment that you catch onto what you’re doing, stop. Redirect your focus to something else or simply put down your phone or log off your computer.

Setting a time limit for scrolling is a great way to stay in control of what you’re doing. Set an alarm on your phone or keep an eye on the clock as it’s easy to think that you’ve only been scrolling for five minutes when in reality it’s been over an hour. That harsh wake-up call of an alarm will help you keep on track and let know when it’s time to put your phone down.

It's so easy to be drawn into the negativity in the news, but it’s important to take the time to remember the positive things in your life and take a moment to acknowledge them. Seek out this positivity by watching funny videos, writing a list of gratitude or even swapping out reading negative news for positive stories.

Taking a digital detox is also a great way to check back in with reality. Make a point of not going on social media for a set amount of time, start with 24 hours then work your way up to a weekend or a week, and notice how you feel afterwards.

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