What is DOOMSCROLING and how to avoid it?

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Feel that you can’t stop following the news, even though it causes fear, anxiety, and depressive thoughts in you?

Pandemic, economic crisis, state of war … If you’ve been following and searching for news more often lately than usual, it’s possible that you’re entangled in a network of ‘doomscrolling‘.

What is doomscroling?

Doomscrolling or doomsurfing is a relatively new term that refers to the tendency to seek and watch negative news in times of crisis and uncertain times, even though it makes us sad and depressed.

Doomscrolling is a mechanism for dealing with stressful situations and an attempt to gain a sense of control over the situation by constantly checking the news because information gives a kind of sense of security. The effect can be the opposite: long-term exposure to negative news affects our mental health.

How does doomscrolling affect mental health?

If you run every day, it will affect your muscles. And if you fall into the doomscrolling hole, it will affect your mental state. Unlike some other, past times, the news is available to us at all times today, so this constant exposure is an additional danger that gives a false sense of control.

Doomscrolling repeats the patterns of gambling behavior because we are not only looking for bad news but also something that will give us hope. As gamblers try to win, they are more likely to lose. For doomscrollers, losing means being exposed to the same bad news, as well as all the negative psychological and physical effects, says psychologist Jane Wu.

A German study in April 2020 found a link between the frequency, duration, and diversity of media exposure and an increase in depression symptoms, and researchers at Dartmouth College found that increased cell phone use was linked to an increase in anxiety, depression, and sedentary lifestyles among students.

How to break the vicious circle?

Once you recognize the problem and its negative effects, the best thing you can do is limit the time spent reading the news and social media. Not following the news 24/7 doesn’t mean we don’t care. If necessary, set a physical distance: turn off the internet and go for a walk.

Instead of following the news about events you can’t influence, focus on the things you can do: donate, volunteer, help someone around you.

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