With the popularity of smartphones and a million pieces of content out there to scroll through, it can be hard to stop scrolling. Doomscrolling happens when your anxiety makes you feel uncertain. You keep scrolling looking for that one article or that one post that will reassure you. This, of course, doesn’t exist, and so you end up with a scrolling addiction.
It’s time to put the phone down for your mental health. Doomscrolling can take you to some very dark places on the internet. There are so many rabbit holes you can go down that it’s enough to make a person sick with anxiety, worry, and fear.
Doomscrolling has only gotten worse for millennials since the start of the pandemic. Particularly during quarantine. You wake up and scroll through your phone for an hour. Maybe two. You check your phone throughout the day. And then it’s time to go to bed and you find yourself up until 1:30 in the morning but you can’t stop scrolling. Does our generation have a scrolling addiction? Yes, most likely.
The reason why doomscrolling is such a bad thing is that it eats up your time, keeps you up at night, decreases the amount of time you spend in the “real world,” and increases anxiety and depression. The cycle of news never stops. Neither do people posting on social media. You can literally get content any time of day from any news outlet or social media app. So how do you manage a scrolling addiction?
Well, there are a few things you can do to stop doomscrolling. For starters, you can discipline yourself to put down the phone before bed. Try to give yourself an hour between when you put your phone down and when you go to sleep. This is also good for your eyes because you’re not consuming the blue light from your screen right before bed.
Another thing you can try is to not pick up your phone first thing in the morning. If you have to check messages or emails before or during work, that’s fine, but stay off the social media apps. They’ll eat up your whole morning and start your day with anxiety and a sense of impending doom.
You can change the settings on your phone so that you’re only allowed x amount of social media screen time a day. There is an option to override it, but train yourself not to. Be strategic about when you look at your apps, how long you let yourself scroll through, and learn when to stop scrolling.
Prioritize spending time in the “real world” over being on your phone. If you have a partner, spend time with them before bed instead of diving into your phone. If you live alone, read a book before bed and don’t pick up the phone except to send a “good night” text or set an alarm.
The rise of social media coincided with the rise of doomscrolling and scrolling addictions. The problem with what happens when you scroll through social media is that you’re only seeing what the media and the people on the socials want you to see. You’re not getting the whole picture.
When the world turned upside down in 2020, the number of people doomscrolling skyrocketed. And for good reason. We’re dealing with a deadly virus with parameters and information that keeps changing. There was a huge shift in the political climate with the inauguration of a new President. Protests were happening all over the US as more and more people were killed at the hands of the police. Unemployment rose. We’re dealing with a recession. I’m getting anxious just writing about it!
In order to stop scrolling, you’ll need to practice discipline. We talked about different ways to stop doomscrolling, but what about when you do allow yourself to use your phone? Even if you use the timer setting on your phone to limit your time on social media, you’ll still be using the time to scroll through all of the apps that you use.
If you live with someone, try using them as an accountability buddy for screen time. Decide how much time you’ll allow yourselves to use social media. Some people choose to delete the apps off of their phones and only check social media on a computer for a few minutes a day. If this seems unattainable to you, stick to the screen time setting.
It’s not a bad idea to get rid of the apps for a little while from your phone anyway. Even if you put them back on in a week or so. You can take a break from the doomscrolling and stop scrolling through social media for a bit.
You can also curate your news feed so that you only follow people that make you feel good. Get rid of the news handles and stay away from hashtags that will lead to doomscrolling. Make your feed a place you like to be, not one that causes you anxiety.
It may seem silly to go to therapy if you have a scrolling addiction. But doomscrolling can really mess with your mental health. If you do manage to stop scrolling, you’ll need coping skills and ways to manage the strong emotions that might come up during downtime. It’s all part of the healing process.
Still not sure whether you’re affecting your mental health by doomscrolling? Consider therapy – I can help you work through your symptoms and come up with coping strategies to manage your scrolling addiction. Which, by the way, is completely normal these days and not something to be ashamed or feel silly about.
I’m ready if you are. Reach out today to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Danielle is an anxiety therapist. She specializes in helping busy millennials manage their anxiety so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.