It happens to all of us—we want to stay informed, so we watch the news every night to catch up on current events. Or maybe we pull out our laptops and read the news in the morning before we head off to work. Or, when we should be sleeping, we lay in bed and scroll through endless updates that all relay the same information. Suddenly, even though we just intended to get online for a couple of minutes to check on the state of our world, we end up doomscrolling.
“Doomscrolling” was one of Oxford English Dictionary’s Words of the Year back in 2020, and according to Merriam-Webster, it is “the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing.” Doomscrolling is especially prevalent in times of nationwide distress—the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and civil unrest are just some examples of news cycles that give people the urge to doomscroll.
Having quality access to news and information is vital to any community or society, and it’s important to stay informed on issues and events, but doomscrolling can increase feelings of anxiety, sadness, and despair. We even lose sleep because of it, but how do we stop doing it?
First, I’ll give the solution that everyone gives—we can put our phones down and limit our time on social media. If this is difficult for you, try using social media as a reward at the end of a long day. Set a time limit (experts recommend no more than 30 minutes a day) and honor that limit to protect your mental health.
Also, make sure you pay attention to your emotions. Oftentimes, we scroll and scroll and don’t think about how the information we’re taking in is affecting our overall wellbeing. Make sure you take time to check in with your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Talk about those feelings with a loved one. You can also engage in “real-world” activities – having dinner with friends, going for a walk, cooking, reading, or any other positive hobby that prevents you from scrolling all day on your screen.
We can’t (and shouldn’t) ignore the events and issues of the world, but we can take measures to protect our mental health surrounding them.
Sadie Hinkel, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Sadie Hinkel is the Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English Education from Morningside University and her Master’s Degree in Writing from Coastal Carolina University. Sadie worked as a high school English teacher for six years, where she realized her passion for advocating for mental health education and awareness. She joined The Kim Foundation in February of 2022 and currently works managing events for the foundation, coordinating volunteer activities, and developing outreach efforts.