Doomscrolling refers to the habit of constantly checking and browsing for negative or depressing news on the internet or on any social media platform. Ideally it is the act of reading one negative story after another. Doomscrolling is a recent word that was coined in the year 2018; however it shot to prominence after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the months of March and April of 2020.
The word ‘Doomscrolling’ became one of the Oxford dictionary’s words of the year 2020 and Oxford described Doomscrolling as ‘Compulsively scrolling through content on social media that is depressing or worrying’. It is seen that Doomscrolling has become more prevalent among patients with pre-existing mental health conditions.
What is the reason behind Doomscrolling?
The basic nature of Human beings is to be curious about the things happening around them and this behavior of eagerness does not stop. Why do people stop, stare and interfere when there is a fight happening between two individuals on the road? Why do people slowdown or stop when there’s an accident on the freeway? It is plain curiosity.
Similarly, in this current age there is no shortage of bad news and it can get tempting for a person to follow all twists and turns of a negative incident or happening, along with the never ending tensions of the sociopolitical climate prevailing in today’s world. If you are struggling with depression or anxiety problems, you tend to focus on negative things happening around the world to validate your belief of depression and the negative feeling within you. In one way Doomscrolling is a form of self-consolation, a thought that you are safe and comfortable within your home and space when there are horrible things happening outside.
Another reason for Doomscrolling is the feeling of preparing yourself in case the things around you go bad or out of hands.
Effects of Doomscrolling
With constant Doomscrolling one can feel claustrophobic and paranoid about the world around you. You are not conscious of the things happening around you as you fail to pay close attention to your thoughts and emotions. The mental health effects of Doomscrolling can in turn cause physical issues such as the instant release of the stress hormone cortisol or adrenaline. Usually an adrenaline rush in humans’ urges them to quickly respond to situation; however excess release of this hormone can cause burnout and fatigue. Long term activation of this hormone can lead of excessive weight loss, anxiety, sexual side effects, high blood pressure etc.
How to stop Doomscrolling?
It is not an impossible task to stop the habit of Doomscrolling if you adhere to the following tips:
- Make a conscious effort to stop by redirecting your attention to something else on the web or by simply putting down your phone or switching of your laptop/computer.
- Set a standard time limit to enter the Doomscrolling zone and see to it that you abide by the time limit. If you have decided to allot 20 minutes to scrolling the web, then ensure you stick to those 20 minutes only.
- Search for positivity by watching and reading something funny or pleasant, look at your family photos, read an inspiring story or watch a funny video that will lighten your mood and your mental set up.
- Practice mindfulness by indulging in meditation or by practicing breathing techniques. You can also use the Journaling tool to note down your feelings.
- Practice ‘Joyscrolling’ instead of ‘Doomscrolling. Joyscrolling is the act of browsing the web for pleasant and happy news so that you feel inspired and hopeful instead of feeling distressed and hopeless. Enlist all the sites and social network platforms that make you feel positive and refreshed mentally.
Remember: “Your beliefs,positive or negative, helpful or hurtful, largely determine everything you do and how you do it”.