Addicted To Doomscrolling? 7 Tips To Help You Stop

Alternaleaf Team
Written by
Alternaleaf Team
May 22, 2024
Last updated:
May 31, 2024

Social media is a popular way to stay connected to friends, family and the world around us – many of us even use it for work. But if you tend to catch yourself in a negative social media vortex, you might be experiencing a specific type of internet addiction: doomscrolling.

Let’s investigate the surprising psychology and effects of doomscrolling and offer a few techniques to help you break the habit.

What is Doomscrolling?

Doomscrolling refers to the mindless or anxious consumption of social media’s vertical content (the ‘infinite scroll’ that appears on platforms like Facebook and Instagram). The type of content can vary from person to person, but it generally encompasses anything that sparks negative feelings like anxiety, depression, or FOMO (fear of missing out). At its core, it’s social media activity that causes you to lose track of time and leaves you feeling worse than when you began.

Why Do We Doomscroll?

Doomscrolling is logically a massive waste of time. And worst of all, it doesn’t even make us happy.

So why do we get stuck in these rabbit holes? Well, sometimes it happens when our interest or concern is piqued by a worrying topic (whether it’s microplastics or global conflict), and we become driven by the compulsion to learn everything about that subject. We may also doomscroll because we fear isolation, feeling that we need a constant social media presence to connect with other people.

Initially, doomscrolling can cause our brains to release a hit of the ‘reward’ neurotransmitter, dopamine. But due to how smartphones and social media platforms are designed, they quickly become addictive, and we end up seeking more of the very thing that’s causing us distress.

What Does Doomscrolling Do To Our Health?

Social media doesn’t seem too threatening, so we tend to normalise it or delay addressing the addiction. However, it’s linked to poor mental health, with symptoms including anxiety, sadness, uncertainty and an inability to focus. But a mental health struggle often manifests itself physically – leading to overeating, headaches, low energy and digestive issues. 

How Can We Break The Cycle?

So, with all the negative effects of this unhelpful habit, how can we curb it – while staying connected to the topics and people we care about? Here are some helpful strategies to try.

1. Take a Beat

Awareness is paramount. Next time you reach for your phone, stop, breathe, and ask yourself how you’re feeling. Discovering your motivations will help you address what you’re trying to remedy and what you really need—whether that’s a chat, a walk, or simply a lie-down.

2. Scheduling

Realistically, you might not cut out social media (or doomscrolling) entirely – and that’s okay. Instead, carve out some time (20 minutes daily maximum) to doomscroll your heart out. Find the time that works for you – just be sure to set the alarm and give yourself a chance to unwind afterwards with some self-care, so you’re not carrying around these heavy emotions. 

3. Source Mindfully

If the news is what you’re after, you can harness some control by finding a reputable news source you enjoy. While news websites still house loads of content, there’s less chance of the addictive content-scrolling or auto-play of social media. Make time for some news that uplifts you – and why not turn it into a mid-morning ritual with your cup of coffee?

4. Take Positive Action

If you find yourself drawn to social media issues related to social, political, or environmental issues, it might be time to get involved. Numerous societies, charities, and activism groups exist, and you can align with them—with the bonus of meeting people who share your values (and who you can decompress with!). 

5. Hide & Don’t Seek

Put your social media apps in a folder on the last page of your mobile’s home screen, or delete any shortcuts on your computer. If you need more of a barrier, tell your devices to forget your logins. Adding any extra steps to accessing social media will build resistance into the routine, making doomscrolling a less appealing option. 

6. Spring Clean The Socials

Besides being cathartic, consciously choosing which accounts and hashtags you follow can be empowering – reducing encounters with content that negatively affects you and making this content harder to access. If you work in social media, surround yourself with positive content so you’re not bombarded with triggers while you work.

7. Seek Support

Building strong mental health can help you combat the emotions that might drive you to doomscroll. Explore ways to manage depression, anxiety and everyday stress – and if you’re stuck, seek advice from a medical practitioner, mental health expert or holistic healthcare professional.

Breaking Free from Doomscrolling

Doomscrolling may seem impossible, but with the right strategies, we can regain control. We can break the cycle by pausing to understand our motivations, setting limits on social media use, and taking positive action in areas of interest.

Curating our digital spaces and seeking support for mental health challenges are crucial steps toward reclaiming our time and well-being. Remember, it's about finding balance, not eliminating social media entirely.

As you embark on this journey, embrace the liberating power of mindful technology use. Your mental health will thank you.

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