Suppose you feel compelled to scroll through social media at midnight, searching for depressing or sad news instead of sleeping, in that case, you are most likely facing an issue of doomscrolling, which can erode your mental health. The term surfaced online in 2020 as people started searching online information and answers to mitigate their fears of COVID-19.
The pandemic has changed the way humans live their lives. Today, most people spend at least 4.2 hours every day on their smartphones. Doctors believe that this habit can be more common with patients suffering from mental health. While spending more time on a phone doesn’t pose mental health challenges, information overload on pandemic and its consequences on employment and other aspects can.
Impact of doomscrolling on mental health and sleep
Pandemic created a collective sense of loss in everyone. People felt hurt hearing or reading stories of passing away even if they didn’t experience any personal loss. Some even went into anxiety and depression due to the constant consumption of such pieces of content. And the problem intensified in people already dealing with trauma, PTSD, and substance use disorder. Besides that, waking up at night as a compulsion to check depressing news in the world is also harmful to your sleep. This habit can make you feel hopeless. It disturbs your circadian rhythm. As a result, you get mood swings and irritation.
Experts like Peter DeCaprio suggest that you can control it with a bit of alertness and conscious effort. So, here are some ways to handle it.
Ways to control doomscrolling
According to doctors, awareness about how much time a person spends on their phone and what other things they could do instead of constantly looking at their social media feed can be a clincher. Curiosity can lead you to many options, such as reading, baking, exercising, etc. At the same time, it is critical to stay updated about global activities. But it doesn’t mean you have to be at it all the time. If you want to know about the happenings, you can allocate a certain amount of time. For example, you can decide to spend half an hour in the morning and half an hour at night. Such practices can be helpful.
As for better sleep, patients can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. Simultaneously, practicing sleep hygiene can be one of the main highlights. When you go to sleep, make sure to keep your phone away from your bed so that you can snuggle and sleep. However, if your sleep breaks at night, creating an urge for doom scrolling, you can pick a book instead. Since it doesn’t activate you emotionally, you can go back to enjoying your peaceful sleep. Another thing is following a bedtime routine and adhering to it.
Doomscrolling has been prevalent with patients with depression and anxiety. But pandemic has aggravated this habit affecting even healthy people. Due to social distancing and work from home, you may be spending more time on screen and not with real people. Hence, that has become a challenge. Still, you can improve it with some mindful tweaks.