Atlanta, Georgia — As if we weren’t already getting too much screen time, the coronavirus quarantine has forced many of us to spend too much time scrolling our social media channels.
And while we’re scanning our Twitter and Instagram feeds, it seems like it’s a never-ending cycle of bad news — COVID-19 cases climbing, universities shutting down, more police shootings and ongoing protests in the fight against racial inequality and police brutality. There's now a name for constant consumption of so much bad news: doomscrolling.
For some, it’s just a way to pass time, but experts say consuming too much bad news on your social feeds can have effects on your mental health. Sixty percent of young adults ages 18-29 say that worry or stress related to the coronavirus outbreak has caused them to experience adverse effects on their mental health or well-being, according to a tracking poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“People go to social media for insight and information, but sometimes we can suffer from an information overload,” said Sharayne Douglas, a Fort Lauderdale based therapist. “Everyone is scared. We all could use some tools to help us deal.”
So if you can’t seem to stop doomscrolling, we have some tips to help you snap out of it.
Set A Daily Social Media Time Limit
Consider limiting your daily social media consumption. There are apps to help you do it. For iPhone users, you have the option to track your screen time and set a personal time limit. Digital Wellbeing on Google Play allows you to set time limits on Android devices. Since nighttime phone use is known to disturb your sleep, put your devices down at least an hour before bedtime.
For Douglas, she allows herself one hour of social media use per day. “I know that for some people, that may be a little too short,” she said. “I urge everyone to be conscious of how much information they take in. Some people have no idea how long they spend on social media. It’s important to manage our time, so we’re not inundated by it all.”
Check In With Yourself
Douglas believes the mental state a person is in can easily affect one’s physical comfort. For example, if you’re scrolling social media and feel pain in your back or stomach, it may be linked to something you just saw, she said. There are several apps available for meditation to help cope with the constant doomscrolling. Check out Shine’s self-care toolkit, the Calm app or MyLife Meditation.
“If you’re watching or reading something and think, ‘I feel some type of way,’ consider why that is and how you can avoid that feeling,” Douglas said. “You have to take care of your star player. Our bodies let us know when things aren’t good for us. We have to pay attention to those natural reactions.”
Take Care Of Your Body
Your physical well-being is just as important as your mental well-being. Douglas suggests activities like yoga or walking outside to help take your mind off things. Planet Fitness offers free workout videos on Facebook, and YouTube has free exercise videos like Yoga With Adrienne and POPSUGAR Fitness.
“Yoga helps control your breathing and regulates your mind,” she said. “You can also take a bubble bath. Certain essential oils have specific benefits, like lavender for anxiety or eucalyptus for nasal congestion.”
Diversify Your Feed / Curate Your Own Content
Consider listening to a podcast like Adult ISH or Therapy for Black Girls. It’s also a good time to search for a new show to binge-watch, there’s “Moesha” or “Indian Matchmaking” on Netflix, “Upload” on Amazon Prime and “Little Fires Everywhere” on Hulu.
Or think about doing some writing — there are so many interesting, non-coronavirus stories to tell.
It’s important to remember that entertainment doesn’t have to be limited to Twitter and watching TV. Douglas admitted to taking up video games in her spare time. “I actually really like the ‘Sims,’” she said. Obviously, you should be mindful of how much time you spend there, too. But being active in another universe can take our minds off this one. Even if only for a few hours.