How to Stop the Cycle of “Doomscrolling”

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Slipping into a “doomscrolling” spiral is something you’re probably familiar with. It is described by Merriam-Webster as the “tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing.”

You probably participated in a little doomscrolling in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was so much information to consume and it felt pretty impossible to look away from the tragedy that was unfolding.

“During times of crisis and uncertainty, some of us pay more attention to the news, looking for answers. And this might not surprise you, but we have to say it: a lot of the news is bad,” says Merriam-Webster. “And yet we keep scrolling, keep reading article after article, unable to turn away from information that depresses us.”

While the fear of missing out is usually applied to social situations in our personal lives, it can also be experienced in a situation like the pandemic.

“The uncertainty in the world and minute-by-minute news breaks has created a fear of missing out,” psychoanalyst Babita Spinelli told mindbodygreen (mbg).

This behaviour, while completely understandable, can be damaging to your mental health if repeatedly carried out. And, in some cases, it can actually create symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The kind of graphic violence shown on social media can elicit trauma and from my view, this can be detrimental to mental health if it continues to be the fabric of one’s day,” Spinelli said.

You might have also participated in doomscrolling following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in May this year. His death prompted Black Lives Matter protests across the world, as well as conversations about white privilege and racism on social media.

“Being aware, educated, and contributing in your own way to combat racial and social injustice is undoubtedly important,” Spinelli told mbg. “However, we need to utilise other mechanisms to do so rather than excessive doomscrolling.”

Spinelli recommends stepping away from doomscrolling and social media and replacing it with resources to self-educate yourself on becoming an anti-racist ally.

Instead of spending an hour aimlessly scrolling through Instagram, use that time to listen to an informative podcast or reading a book that will probably give you a bit more value than doomscrolling.

Other ways to get involved include supporting Black and Indigenous-Australian businesses as well as donating your time and money to organisations that work with these marginalised communities.

While social media is undoubtedly a useful platform for education, it can also become overwhelming at times like these. Following a select number of experts will make it easier for you to absorb and understand the information as it’s coming from those in the know.

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