This Mental Health Awareness Month, seek out more feel-good content and limit time online for your family’s overall wellness.
The year 2020 was packed with headlines: COVID Cases Surging! Vaccine Supplies Low! Stock Market Crashes! Wildfires Rage! It seemed that each new day brought a fresh new disaster, each reported with a shocking headline. Many of us couldn’t get enough of these startling stories, and eventually 2020 would become the year of another newfangled phenomenon: doomscrolling. When we doomscroll, we spend hours seeking out and reading articles that are negative in nature. We may think we’re simply keeping ourselves fully informed and prepared, but really, we’re stoking needless worry and internal stress.
It’s natural to look for information that will help us prepare for how to protect ourselves when uncertainty looms. But when we only focus on negative stories, we unnecessarily exaggerate the threat. Consuming constant fatalistic news doesn’t empower us with knowledge. Instead, doomscrolling can instill feelings of angst, vulnerability, and hopelessness, which are detrimental to our mental health. Research shows that people who consume gloom-and-doom media are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress when compared with those people who choose to limit their exposure to negative stories.
Be Proactive About Mental Health
This Mental Health Awareness Month in May is a good time to consider whether you have a doomscrolling habit. Track the online time you spend reading the news. Ask yourself how this information is affecting your mood and sleep patterns. If you are feeling depressed and lie awake most nights feeling anxious, you probably need to change your reading habits. Here are a few tactics that might help mitigate the tendency towards doomscrolling.
1. Ask if the content is useful.
You don’t need to cut out news altogether, just be more selective about your choices. Pay attention to what you’re reading. When choosing an article, think about the specific information you want to receive from it. As you read, check in with yourself. Is it actually giving you useful facts or just stoking fears?
2. Balance the types of content you’re consuming
When scrolling through news or social media, make sure you read a balanced selection of articles. Look out for positive headlines and feel-good features to add to your daily consumption. To close out your daily scrolling, choose a website to browse that has nothing to do with news.
3. Limit your news-reading time
Another strategy for kicking the doomscroll habit is to limit your time online reading the news. For example, set a limit for 30 minutes in the morning and then another 30 minutes in the late afternoon. Circle has a Time Limits feature that will cut off your access to specific news or social media sites after your 30 minutes are up. You can also Filter content with a focus on quality news.
You could also try to make the news sites you read less appealing by turning off the color on your screen. Color options are usually found in the Settings section of your smartphone.
4. Balance online and offline time
Lastly, make sure that you balance your online activity with offline activity. After finishing a 30-minute session of news reading, do a project that you enjoy that doesn’t require a screen, like sketching, exercising, or gardening. Make it a family event to keep kids balanced with offline activities too. Perhaps those fresh flowers will inspire a new healthier habit for 2021: bloomscrolling, the idea of seeking content that inspires growth, beauty, restart, positivity.
Learn how Circle can help you limit your family’s time online with features like Filter, Pause, and Bedtime too.