Growing up at the end of the last century, our source of digital entertainment was limited to television. Every day, my parents would motivate me to go to school and study hard by promising to let me watch my favorite cartoons on TV at 6 PM in the evening. This hope brought a smile to my face and taught me the value of patience.
But as time passed, technology advanced and our habits changed. With the advent of mobile phones and fast internet, everything became readily accessible at our fingertips. Gone were the days of waiting for a favorite song to be released and purchasing it from a store. Now, it was available on social media, ready to be played at any moment.
We lost the ability to be patient as we became accustomed to having everything at our disposal, right now and right away. This shift in behavior affected every aspect of our lives and how we interact with technology.
Today, we exist in a rapidly evolving and interconnected world where access to information is more readily available than ever before. The internet serves as a virtual buffet, presenting us with an endless array of options – from exercise routines to meditative practices, to the darker side of human behavior.
Gone are the days when parents would tell us to wait for evening cartoons. Now, many of us find ourselves constantly scrolling through online content, unable to break away from the barrage of information. This constant stream of information comes with a new challenge – the destructive habit of “doomscrolling.”
Doomscrolling refers to the habit of continuously impatiently scrolling through negative or upsetting content in social media feeds, despite the increasing feeling of anxiety or despair that it can cause. This term was popularized during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were frequently checking news sites for updates and becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the constant stream of negative information. A 2021 survey by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK found that social media was the most commonly reported source of negative news, with 40% of respondents reporting that they felt overwhelmed by the amount of negative news they encountered on social media.
The impact of doomscrolling on mental health is real. Excessive exposure to negative news can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. It can also cause stress and disrupt sleep patterns, which can further negatively impact one’s mental health.
So, what can be done to overcome doomscrolling and reduce its negative effects? Here are some tips to help you break the cycle:
- Limit your exposure: Set aside specific times during the day to check the news, and stick to this schedule. Avoid checking news or social media feeds first thing in the morning or right before bed, as this can disrupt your sleep and start your day on a negative note.
- Be selective: Be mindful of the sources you choose to follow, and focus on sources that provide accurate and balanced information. Consider limiting or unfollowing sources that consistently produce negative or anxiety-inducing content.
- Take breaks: Take breaks from your phone, computer, and other digital devices, and engage in activities that bring joy and positivity. This can include reading a book, taking a walk, practicing mindfulness, or connecting with friends and family.
- Seek professional help: If you find that you are unable to reduce your doomscrolling habits and that it is impacting your mental health, consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional can help you develop coping strategies and provide support.
In conclusion, doomscrolling can have a negative impact on our mental health, but it is possible to overcome it with some effort and self-care. By limiting our exposure, being selective about the sources we choose, taking breaks, and seeking professional help if needed, we can reduce the impact of negative news and protect our mental well-being.