Women holding a cell phone and sitting in front of a laptop

The Effects of Doomscrolling

If you aren’t familiar with the term, doomscrolling or doomsurfing is the act of endless online searching of negative news. Basically, it’s bad news binging and is an easy, yet unhealthy, habit to pick up. Unfortunately, there will never be a shortage of potential threats in the news and if you go looking for those threats you will always find them.

It’s important to remember that there is a fine line between staying informed and becoming overwhelmed, and too many of us constantly cross over that line and head into dangerous territory.  While it is normal to want to keep abreast of the news in order to feel in control of your life, doomscrolling is an unhealthy habit that can affect your mental and physical health.

A little stress can be a great motivator at times, but a lot of it can create chaos. Over time, doomscolling can lead to serious health issues, such as: 

  • Increased stress
  • Anxiety and continuous low-level panic
  • Depression
  • Obsessive thoughts and worry
  • Belief that the world is a dangerous place to live in
  • Comparison to others 
  • Feeling unsafe/threatened/hopeless 
  • Burnout
  • Isolation 
  • Sleep disruptions and overeating 

Instead of heading down the bad news rabbit hole, try the following ways to curb the habit and get back to a happier, healthier you.

Set an internet scrolling timer: limit your time online by setting a timer for 5-15 minutes every time you go online to scroll for updates. You can also use apps that will lock you out of your accounts after a certain amount of time per day. 

Stay aware and mindful in the moment: remember why you’re online and what you intend to get out of your searches. Pay attention to how you’re feeling when online: if your body and mind start to get stressed, listen to them and either put down your phone or walk away from your computer.

For every minute you spend reading and pursuing negative news, counter it with positive online activities: send a funny video to a friend, write a nice note on your aunt’s FB feed, watch some cats doing whatever crazy cat thing cats do, etc.

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