Doomscrolling: How Excessive Social Media Use Can Negatively Affect Your Mental Health
Doomscrolling: How Excessive Social Media Use Can Negatively Affect Your Mental Health

Doomscrolling: How Excessive Social Media Use Can Negatively Affect Your Mental Health

With the rise of social media, people now have access to more news and information than ever before. While this can be a good thing, it also means that many of us are exposed to an overwhelming amount of negative and distressing news on a daily basis. In fact, this has become such a common occurrence that it has been given a name: doomscrolling.

Doomscrolling refers to the habit of endlessly scrolling through social media feeds in search of bad news, often relating to the pandemic, politics, climate change, or other issues that can leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and depressed. While this may seem like a harmless way to stay informed, the reality is that it can have a significant impact on our mental health.

One of the biggest problems with doomscrolling is that it can lead to an increase in stress and anxiety levels. When we are constantly bombarded with negative news, our brains go into overdrive, triggering the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This can cause us to feel overwhelmed, irritable, and even physically unwell.

Doomscrolling can also have a negative impact on our sleep patterns. Exposure to blue light from digital screens can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. This can make it harder to fall asleep at night and result in poor-quality sleep, leaving us feeling tired and lethargic the next day.

To break free from the doomscrolling habit, it is important to be mindful of how much time we spend on social media and to set boundaries for ourselves. This could involve limiting our social media use to specific times of the day, taking regular breaks from the news, or unfollowing accounts that consistently post negative content.

Instead, focus on things that make you feel good, like spending time with loved ones, doing a hobby, or engaging in physical activity. By prioritising your mental health and wellbeing, you can break free from the cycle of doomscrolling and cultivate a more positive mindset.

What causes doomscrolling

Doomscrolling is often caused by a combination of factors, including our innate desire to stay informed and our addiction to technology. As human beings, we have a natural curiosity to stay up-to-date with what’s happening around us, but our access to digital devices has made it easier than ever to indulge this curiosity, leading to a constant stream of negative news and information.

Moreover, social media platforms are designed to keep us engaged and scrolling, which means that they often prioritise sensational and emotionally charged content over more balanced and positive news. This can create a cycle of doomscrolling, where we are continually exposed to negative and distressing news, causing anxiety and stress.

Other factors that can contribute to doomscrolling include feelings of helplessness and a lack of control, especially in times of crisis. When faced with a global pandemic, political upheaval, or climate change, we may feel like we have little agency over the events happening around us, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. In turn, this can cause us to engage in doomscrolling as a coping mechanism to try and stay informed and in control.

Overall, doomscrolling is a complex phenomenon that is caused by a combination of psychological, social, and technological factors. Understanding the underlying causes of doomscrolling can help us to break free from this habit and prioritise our mental health and wellbeing.

How can I stop doomscrolling

Doomscrolling can be difficult to break free from, but there are some strategies you can try to help you curb this habit and prioritise your mental health. Here are some tips to help you stop doomscrolling:

  1. Set limits: Try to limit the amount of time you spend on social media and set specific times of the day when you will check your feeds. This can help you create a healthy balance between staying informed and engaging in other activities.
  2. Take a break: Take regular breaks from social media and the news to give your brain a chance to reset. Go for a walk, spend time in nature, or do something that makes you feel good.
  3. Unfollow negative accounts: Consider unfollowing social media accounts that consistently post negative and distressing content. Instead, focus on following accounts that share positive and uplifting news and content.
  4. Practice mindfulness: When you feel the urge to doomscroll, take a deep breath and check in with yourself. Ask yourself if engaging in this behaviour will serve you in a positive way or if it will contribute to your stress and anxiety.
  5. Seek support: If you are struggling to break free from the doomscrolling habit, consider reaching out to a mental health professional or support group for guidance and support.

Remember, breaking the doomscrolling habit takes time and effort. Be patient and kind to yourself as you work to create healthier habits and prioritise your mental health and wellbeing.