Doomscrolling during COVID-19 can leave you anxious; try these methods cut usage of phone, tablet
Doomscrolling is the habit of scrolling non-stop to consume information on dangers around you, such as, currently, the COVID-19 pandemic
Waking up and checking the internet for the latest developments on COVID-19 has become the new normal for a lot of people. You go through social media, check notifications and then browse through news sites to know what happened since the last time you checked in. Under normal circumstances, the news can be a mix of good and bad.
However, as the pandemic rages on, it is becoming increasingly hard to avoid bad news. What may start with checking the latest numbers and reading up on precautions, you may end up drowning in depressing information about not only the world but also your immediate surroundings. The habit of scrolling to consume this kind of information has become so common that we have a term for it: doomscrolling.
While it is good to be vigilant and aware of the dangers around you, doomscrolling may leave you anxious and stressed and can take a toll on your mental health. If you’re facing this problem during this pandemic, here are some ways to take control of the situation:
1. Set a time
Some apps come with a feature that helps you time your usage of them. For others, put on a timer on your phone itself before you begin to scroll and quit the app as soon as it goes off. If you generally spend 30 minutes at a time, begin by setting the timer to 20 minutes and then keep reducing it by two-three minutes every day.
This will make you more efficient at finding the most important things you need to know to keep yourself up to date with the latest information and at the same time also save you from the anxiety caused by excessive doomsday news.
2. Make a plan
Now, this might seem a bit excessive for a simple act, but it’ll help. Before you start checking up on the news, think of what all you are going to check on. Make a mental list of maybe five things you want to see before you put the phone aside.
Even while scrolling through, keep a check on yourself and make sure that you deviate as less as possible from your plan.
3. Keep a note on your triggers
Your body sends you various messages when the news is too depressing or when it has become too much for you. Make note of the reactions from your body about how the news makes you feel — are you feeling stressed or anxious?
When you are mindful of your own body and mind, you would understand better when it is time to pause and let go. This will also help you with noting and controlling the amount of time you spend scrolling.
4. Find a distraction
Another way to stop yourself from doomscrolling is finding something to replace this habit. Try to note the time you are most likely to engage in this habit and then make sure to keep your phone or tablet away before that time.
Find something else to focus on as well, so you aren’t tempted to check your devices. Pick up a new hobby, read a book, talk to your friends or family, do some cooking or listen to a podcast. Having enjoyable experiences and learning new things may help you appreciate the time away from your devices.
5. Ask for help
It is absolutely okay if you slip up once or twice. Putting a stop to any bad habit can be a bit difficult when you are so used to it. However, what really makes a difference is you continue making an effort to reduce the number of slip-ups.
If you can’t seem to manage it on your own, ask a family member or a friend to help. You can give your phone or tablet to them when you are most likely to engage in the habit.
For more information, read our article on How to protect your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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