“Doomscrolling” or sometimes known as “Doomsurfing”, are terms used when an individual constantly scrolls through the internet looking for news that whilst may be informative, normally is of a negative nature, and could have a harmful effect on the individual.
From the media point of view, one obvious example is Covid-19, where we have been bombarded with so much doom and gloom, The news and has been relentless since we first heard of the pandemic around March 2020. Spending time on the internet has greatly increased since ‘lockdown’ to avoid boredom and to endure the isolation.
If you are suffering from the fatigue of ‘Doomscrolling’, all is not lost. There are certain steps you can take to try to alleviate this if you feel it is a problem and reclaim your life! Here are 9 things to consider:
#1 Record your activity on the internet for a day
Research has shown a link between heavy internet usage and increased health risks such as internet addiction, anxiety, depression, obesity, and social isolation.
Whilst social isolation under ‘lockdown’ restrictions are inevitable, do you know how long you are scrolling the internet daily? In 2020, the average an individual spent surfing the internet was 2 hours 20 minutes a day.
Awareness of your own usage is important, so you need to know how long you are scrolling the internet. Do just that, record the times you access the internet in one day. Also, record the way you are accessing the information-is it by phone, PC, tablet?
#2 Assess your activity
Especially at the present time with the pandemic, more people are working at home and so are students.
Now you have a fair idea how much time you spend on the internet. Using a computer in your everyday working or student life are inevitable and essential. But you also need to consider the times you are online and are you spending more time surfing than you need to? Are you surprised at the time you are on the internet, social media platforms etc? Are you easily distracted from your work? Does this worry you?
If that is a yes, you can learn how to manage your time you spend on the internet. Ask yourself, each time you go onto the internet, is this absolutely necessary at this time? If it is no, then take a step back and try and find an alternative activity.
#3 Try a time management app
If you are having difficulty assessing the amount of time you are on the internet, try a time management app such as RescueTime for example.
This app will let you know where you’re spending your time on that computer as it provides details on how much active time you spend on various websites and applications.
It also has a “Focus mode” feature (Premium only feature) which gives you the option of ‘barring’ youself from visiting selected websites. It works by blocking distracting websites so you can focus on productive activities. RescueTime is available for Mac and PC.
Another similar app is Digital Wellbeing available on Android. Android’s Digital Wellbeing tools give you a daily view of how often you check your phone and how frequently you use different apps. You can then set limits with daily app timers, and unplug at night with features like Bedtime mode.
#4 Allocate certain times of the day for surfing the internet
If you prefer not to get an app to do the work, allocate a certain time in the day to accessing the internet for your personal use and keep your work time completely separate.
Also set a time limit for surfing. Set aside certain times of the day to read the news, and set a 10-minute timer to remind you to stop scrolling. The importance of planning your day in the morning or on the night before is crucial here. Start by making calendar appointments for everything from mundane activities, like taking a walk outside, to business matters, like videoconferencing meetings.
Dedicate one of your computers or a laptop for your work or your studies and do not surf the web unless it is for this purpose. Don’t just scroll around Facebook or YouTube in the midst of your work whenever you feel compelled to do so, because you could easily get distracted from your work schedule and you’ll end up wasting too much time.
#5 Take Your Breaks Away from the internet
Don’t pick up your phone to surf the internet or look at the news on tv first thing in the morning. Do something else.
Turn off your phone’s push notifications. A push notification is a message that pops up on a mobile device. App publishers can send them at any time; users don’t have to be in the app or using their devices to receive them
Working long hours at anything will lead to fatigue. Regular breaks from work throughout the day can be beneficial as it raises your alertness and attention levels.
It is generally considered better if you take regular short breaks rather than a long one. Taking a 5 to 10 minute break, for example, is better than a 20 minute one. If in a work environment, then ideally you should be in a position to be able to choose when you take your break and walk away from your computer.
Try to resist that opportunity to access the web via your mobile phone or tablet during your break. Take a walk, drink a beverage or give a thought to how your day is going instead.
6# Use the Internet to improve your life
The internet has probably affected our lives more than anything else that came before.
With the coming of the internet, the human race has a tremendous opportunity to explore this vast and wonderful universe that we exist in. Never before have we had the opportunity to explore, educate and enhance our individual lives at a touch of button and to help others with the information that is on offer.
The internet does not have to be a tool solely to access doom and gloom. It is an incredibly powerful tool for connecting people and collating easily-accessible information. If used properly, it can connect with people, allow you to enhance your life, provide you with positive information, a problem solver, learn about the world, link you to real life interests, entertain and much more besides.
#7 Go a Whole Day Without the Internet
The tough one! Take a day off from it all. This is another way to assess if the internet is controlling you! Use your phone only as a phone.
You can even inform your friends or contacts that you will not be available on a particular day.
This exercise is not going to be easy and it is important that you review your feelings of what happened that day. Did it feel good or did you panic? Did you yearn for Facebook? What is certain is that you will learn a lot about the effects the internet has on you. Remember it was an exercise and not the end of the world.
#8 Connect with people
Especially if you are experiencing a strict “lockdown” or a period of isolation, try and spend 15 minutes a day connecting with the people you care the most outside your ‘bubble’.
This can make you feel less alone and help you avoid “doomscrolling”.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many people took to video conferencing to virtually connecting to their friends and loved ones. This is especially important if you are experiencing the common phenomena of not knowing which day it is because your regular routine has been curtailed due to a full “lockdown”.
This is also a good time to reconnect with your family that live with you. If you have been living together in “lockdown” this one maybe a strain as you are so closely knit together at this time. But it is always a good thing to remind yourself and them that you are in this together and you appreciate their presence.
#9 Find a hobby
Schools, gyms, yoga studios and local attractions such as zoos and museums are getting creative, offering opportunities to enjoy what they offer digitally.
What is even better is that the services, classes and attractions are for free.
Here is a list of 40 hobbies you may like to consider and to choose from. click on the link here.
If you have regular worries about what the future will bring, you may wish to check out our video “5 tips to stop worrying about the future (stop overthinking)” on our YouTube channel. Click the image to view the video: