Doomscrolling: What is it? And 5 easy ways to block it!

Doomscrolling: The desire and compulsion to consume news, media, and other content that leads to a sense of dread or hopelessness.

We’ve all done it. Especially over the past 10 months. We’ve written it off as simply staying informed or up to date. We’ve decided it was crucial. And because of that, we’ve probably done ourselves a disservice.

By constantly opening ourselves up to negativity, we can feel bombarded. Moods can slip. Anxiety can ramp up and we can find ourselves spiraling, all because of content we’ve chosen to engage with.

It doesn’t have to be like this. There are good things, but sometimes that positivity just doesn’t reach us. Or, when it does, we don’t recognize the significant power it wields. Positivity has a persuasive power on how we experience the world. In fact, John Hopkins University has linked the presence of a positive outlook with overall good health. It actually does our hearts good to focus on the good.

So, here are five ways we can break up with doomscrolling by taking positive action:

1) Call your grandma: If you are lucky enough to have a grandma, get dialing. Connecting with an older generation of any sort not only gives you much needed perspective but means the world to them. Ask them questions about their life, their homes growing up, their opinions on the world we live in. You’ll be surprised by the takeaways. Bonus: If you FaceTime them, you get to see their reactions (or depending on their tech savvy-ness, their ceiling 😂 ).

2) Take an alternative scroll: We spend so much time scrolling through news and social media sites, and sometimes that action allows negativity to creep in. Take an alternative route through your own history and stroll through the camera roll instead. Suddenly, you’re transported back in time – to parties, vacations, and the faces of some of your favourite people. If you are an IOS user, the featured photos are a great way to experience photos you’d long forgotten about. Or, if you an android user, Google Memories keeps fresh memories popping up every day.

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3) Set a limit: IOS has built-in time limits and app blocking that can remind you when it’s time to take a break. Android users have blocking apps like Digital Wellbeing that can set limits, break out focus time, that overall can help you manage your doomscroll compulsion. If that isn’t enough of a break, then you might need to consider blocking out time to put your phone down entirely. Leave it inside as you step outdoors and get into one of the many outdoors activities Saskatchewan has to offer. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing or skating are great outdoor alternatives to screen time. If you’re not outdoorsy, the analog option is still available. Curl up with a book, a puzzle or some sort of tangible activity to keep your fingers occupied.

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4) Unfollow/unsubscribe/unfriend: If the content you’re engaging with is making you feel bad – unworthy, bothered – or compromising your sense of wellbeing, it’s time to clean up your feed. Unfollowing those accounts allows you to release some of the tension you feel when you log on. Actively evaluate the type of content you're receiving. Does this bring you joy? No? Unfollow. To make the most of the content you’re seeing, seek out things that do bring you joy. If fitness influencers are making you feel bad and miniature dachshunds are making you LOL, then doggone it, it’s time to follow more dogs.

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5) Get to bed: Doomscrolling creeps in minute by minute, often just before we close our eyes. Something can trigger a need to see what is happening – a notification, a post, a text – and we can’t sleep till we put the world in order. One way to cut out this self-torment is by utilizing bedtime reminders. Android and IOS both have functions that help you get the optimal amount of sleep. This includes pausing notifications and prompting you when to tuck yourself in so you won’t see that tweet, text, or news alert that could send you spiraling right before bed. Bye doomscrolling, hello sandman!

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So, step aside doomscrolling. With these tools in our belt, your days are numbered!

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