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If you’re someone who reaches for your phone as soon as you wake up (other than to turn off the alarm), you may find yourself scrolling through your newsfeed or social media channels out of habit. It can start out innocently enough: quizzes to find out which Golden Girl you are, pictures of your friends’ kids drawing on the walls, and recipes for a one-pot meal you’ll think about making for dinner but never will. But in this year of never-ending doom, it’s hard to avoid all the bad news—primarily because it just keeps coming.
And this brings us to doomscrolling: constantly checking your news and social media feeds for new information. Maybe you’re looking for some good news, or perhaps staying as up-to-date as possible on what’s going on makes you feel more in control. Either way, it’s not great for your mental health. Here are a few tips for quitting your doomscrolling habit.
Replace doomscrolling with something else
This one is fairly obvious, but if you don’t have your phone (or tablet or laptop) around you at all time, you’ll be less tempted to look for news updates. If there are certain times you’re more prone to doomscrolling, make sure you have something else on hand to consume instead, like a book or podcast (on topics that don’t stress you out).
Set online boundaries for yourself
It’s not realistic, in most cases, to avoid the news and social media completely, but there are ways to consume it in a healthy way. Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist, tells Well + Good why this is important:
“Avoid news after dinner, as it increases evening stress and interferes with all-important sleep. You can also strive to stay away from provoking, visual sources that might trigger traumatic responses from you, and, above all, listen to what your body is telling you. When you slow down to listen, your body and mind will tell you when you’ve absorbed enough or the wrong type of news. If you’re feeling agitated, anxious, or stressed, you know your body is signaling you to stop what you’re doing.”
Be mindful of your triggers
At this point, you’ve probably noticed that some topics in the news and social media are harder for you to handle than others. This is the case with or without a global pandemic and everything else that’s going on right now. For example, if you’ve just had a miscarriage, you may want to avoid baby pictures on social media. “If a trigger feels especially stressful and challenging, strive not to criticize or judge yourself; simply realize that you need a bit of extra TLC around these issues,” Manly tells Well + Good. And remember: the option to block or mute someone is there for a reason.