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Doom-Scrolling: Why We Do It and How to Stop

Humans naturally crave security and control. Lately, the compounding uncertainty from election turmoil, illness, school closures, and layoffs have left many feeling insecure and unsettled. As we grow more anxious, it’s normal to seek control in any form possible. For many, that means consuming bad news and obsessing about and sharing every detail. This phenomenon is known as “doom-scrolling.”

There’s a lot of bad news right now, and many people are stuck at home and spending most of their time on the internet. Medical and mental health workers have noted an increase in anxiety, blood pressure, insomnia, and depression. As we head into winter with shorter days and longer nights, those numbers will only increase. If you find yourself addicted to bad news and are ready to minimize the temptation to scroll, here are 5 suggestions to save your emotional and physical health.

  1. Keep your phone off and/or out of reach at night. The further your phone is from you at night, the better you will sleep. Plus, you won’t start your day with a screen full of bad news.

  2. Silence news notifications on your phone. News alerts are the trigger for scrolling obsessively. They remind you that chaos is happening, and you have no control. As adrenaline and cortisol increase, so does your respiration, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

  3. Schedule times to read the news. Limiting the intake of news organizes your day and gives you a routine that you are in control of. This can help minimize anxiety.

  4. Structure your day to reduce idleness. The more your day is structured with activities or work, the less time you’ll have to scroll for bad news.

  5. Replace doom-scrolling time with an activity you enjoy. Creating a healthy habit of walking, reading, or working out instead of doom-scrolling can help you eliminate it.

During uncertain times, the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is taking control ONLY of what you are in control of, which includes taking care of your mental and physical health. Tune into your body; if you’re unable to sleep and feel tense most of the day, limit the news coming into your home. Reading more books and encouraging your family to take evening walks and have meals together can help you feel more secure during erratic times.


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