Some of us literally can’t imagine life without a cell phone — we’ve been living with them our entire lives now. But while these devices certainly make life easier, we all know they have the power to impact our lives negatively, too. That was especially true in the last couple of years, when we’ve turned healthy consumption of media (both digital and social) into a full-blown bad habit. Read on to learn about doomscrolling, how widespread it is — and some simple tips to stop scrolling.
What Is Doomscrolling?
Doomscrolling is the act of scrolling through social media or websites (often late at night, but it can happen any time of day) looking for updates on the doom and gloom of the world. The term took root in our collective vocabulary during the pandemic, but chances are you recall doing this long before that time. (At least on occasion.)
Social media can certainly connect us – especially when we had to stay home to stay safe – and the news keeps us informed. But the difference between healthy consumption of traditional and social media and “doomscrolling” is the intent. Doomscrolling happens when surfing turns into a compulsion, a way to check out and avoid reality or disengage. You might notice yourself losing minutes or hours to scrolling, in turn cutting into your time for sleep, productivity or work.
Why People Do It
In short? We use doomscrolling as an avoidance technique. We doomscroll as a coping technique for stress and anxiety – instead of healthier outlets. It feels soothing to keep getting little hits of dopamine (a pleasure hormone) with every news article, Tweet, Instagram Story and TikTok. And, since anxiety is our body’s way of keeping us alert for potential emergencies, reading about all the real ones in the world can feel like we’re “doing our homework” in a way.
But this habit is not good for your physical or (especially) your mental health. Doomscrolling can cut into your precious hours of sleep. It can make you feel overwhelmed by information. And it can reinforce negative thoughts and get you stuck in a negative mindset.
What can you do about it? Plenty! As with any habit you want to break or change, start small, give yourself grace along the way – and remember that setbacks are part of the experience. Read on for some tips to support you.
How Can I Stop Doomscrolling?
So you want to stop doomscrolling? Congratulations! First up, know that you are not alone – psychologists have even studied this habit! Back in 2021, researchers found that we consumed 35% more digital news and almost 47% more social media in the early months of the pandemic.
Only you know how much scrolling is too much and how much of yours is “doomscrolling.” If you’re ready to cut back, try these tips.
- Use your phone’s time limits – and don’t override them. Doomscrolling often happens when we give ourselves free rein to use our phones. But when there’s only a finite amount of time to use social media or Google each day, we might start to budget our time better. Look at your phone’s weekly usage reports, then cut back on your usage by 25% to start. As that becomes more manageable, consider scaling back more. And resist the urge to override the limits by clicking “remind me in 15 minutes” or “ignore for today.”
- Put your screens in another room. (Especially at night!) Idle hands and restless minds make doomscrolling hard to resist. If you’re working on your sleep habits, putting your phone out of reach might help. Consider doing a sleep meditation instead of scrolling – and if waking up in the middle of the night is your problem, try one of these seven things to fall back asleep.
3. Keep your hands full. It’s impossible to scroll if you don’t have at least one free hand. Any activity that occupies your hands – from yoga or knitting to baking or Sudoku puzzles – can distract you while keeping your mind off the doom and gloom of the world. Some can help your health, too! Both knitting and crocheting are known to be stress-relieving (once you get the hang of the hooks and needles). And crossword and other puzzles can help keep your brain sharper later in life.
4. Cut back on the caffeine. This is especially true if you often combine doomscrolling with reverse bedtime procrastination. If you find yourself awake at night, tossing and turning because you had too many flat whites today, start by focusing on your caffeine intake. In small amounts, caffeine can help you manage your energy throughout the day. But overdo it (or indulge within six hours or so of bedtime) and you’ll be counting sheep and doomscrolling until dawn. Instead, make your morning coffee do more for you! Reach for Good Morning Sunshine™ coffee + adaptogens. You only need a pod (not a whole pot), and you get to combine really excellent coffee with the stress-management benefits of red ginseng. We infuse every pod with organic red ginseng extract so you get to fight fatigue with more than just caffeine.*
5. Find a new “time filler” when you’re bored. Are you someone who doomscrolls to pass the time while you wait in lines or carpool pickup? For you, the key to breaking your habit will be to fill it with something that’s both “good” for your brain and interesting to you. Take up Wordle (or any of its spinoffs). Download Duolingo to learn a new language. Or read the news – but stick to the arts, sports and culture sections.
6. Institute a new bedtime routine. Instead of focusing on “more” – do less at bedtime. No more “just five more minutes of reading.” Cut out “just one more episode” of that new Netflix series. And no more “just a few more Reels and TikToks.” Get into bed and get ready for sleep. Your number one ally in this new routine? Hello Dreams™ Sleep Strips with Melatonin and Calm Down™ herbal blend. A few minutes before you want to nod off, place one on your tongue. Put down your phone, let it melt on your tongue (then swallow) and close your eyes. Then get ready to wake up to a better morning – and resist the urge to start your day with a doomscrolling session!*
As a final reminder, be nice to yourself. Doomscrolling is common – but it’s a habit you can break. At the same time, if you slip back into the habit after a few weeks, be kind to yourself. Focus on adding positive habits and slowly weaning yourself back off. You can do this!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.