Doomscrolling Is Slowly But Surely Destroying Your Mental Health
What is doomscrolling?
Doomscrolling or doomsurfing is the act of obsessively scrolling through negative news even though it evokes feelings of sadness and anxiety. Today, some people choose to completely ignore the negativity they see online while others spend hours reading about the horrific effects of the pandemic. In doing so, they dive into a world of darkness as they read how many people have died, how many countries have gone into lockdown, and how many businesses have gone bankrupt. Constant exposure to and obsession with such negativity will inevitably have a detrimental effect on your mental health.
If it makes us so sad, why do we do it?
According to Ken Yeager, Ph.D., a psychiatrist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, our doomscrolling habits can be linked to evolution. Speaking to Health, Yeager claimed that “We are all hardwired to see the negative and be drawn to the negative because it can harm us physically.” Moreover, he explained that in the past, our ancestors would learn how dangerous animals could physically hurt them and they would use this knowledge to avoid danger. Yeager notes that in the modern world, we are unaware that we continue to do so even if the threat is very different. Taking this further, he explains that we can sense danger and it is this ability that helps us survive.
People are drawn to doomscrolling because they feel like they have a sense of being able to control any of that bad news. But doomscrolling does not create control and only makes you miserable.
Ken Yeager, PhD
🚨 STOP 🚨 You are doomscrolling! We are all doing it, especially healthcare workers. Negative COVID-19 news affect us disproportionately.
1. Focus on the things YOU can change for the better
2. Limit social media and/or unfollow the news
3. Talk to your friends/family❤️
— James Lown, MD 😷 (@jameshlown) November 20, 2020
How can you put an end to doomscrolling?
As with all negative habits, it is important to first acknowledge that you are doing it. Notice how the news that you expose yourself to makes you feel. If it stresses you out or gives you feelings of anxiety, you need to take action. Set yourself time limits and stick to them when scrolling through social media. Make sure that you surround yourself with positive content and try to find three things to be happy about every day. It can be something as simple as being grateful for the weather, the breakfast you ate, or the coffee you drank. Now more than ever, it is important that we try to see the positive things in our lives.