With so much going on in America and all over the world, it can be extremely difficult to avoid “doom scrolling”. “Doom scrolling” is a term that has been coined to describe scrolling through social media and online news sources that are focusing on frightening or negative news. This can cause one to become overly wrapped up with the negative news and lead to anxiety, sadness, anger, or any other emotions that negatively impact one’s mental health. However, it is important to stay informed. Knowledge about current topics can give one a sense of control and understanding. Balance is key when it comes to staying informed while also taking care of oneself. But how does one find that balance? Below are some steps you can take to healthily stay informed with the news.
Limit the amount of time you spend consuming news. Endlessly scrolling through or watching the news will likely not do any good. You will likely become inundated with too much information. Instead of scrolling or having the news channel on all day, check the news once or twice a day. When the news begins to repeat itself, turn it off. It can also be helpful to avoid checking the news right before bed. Consuming news right before bed can increase the stress hormone cortisol and make it tough to fall asleep.
Pick one or two reputable sources. Using too many news sources can be overwhelming. Picking one or two reputable sources can make the news easier to digest. If using social media for news, it can be helpful to use a fact checking site, such as Snopes. You can also try reading headlines first to ensure you are reading what is important and not over-consuming. There are also many email newsletters that compress the most important news items into an email.
Listen to your mind and body when consuming news. Our minds and bodies tell us a lot. Keep track of how you are feeling when you are reading or watching the news. If you find yourself feeling anxious when checking the news, remind yourself that it is okay to step away. Tension or pain also may be signs that it is time to step away. If you find yourself feeling angry, fatigued, irritable, or worried while consuming news, allow yourself to take a break.
Practice self-care. You have heard it time and time again, but practicing self-care is extremely important. News tends to consume people. Remember the importance of sleep, exercise, regular meals, and spending time with friends and family. When feeling overwhelmed with negative news, it can be helpful to step away and practice some self-care. Try listening to music or going on a walk when you realize it is time to step away from the news for a little while.
Constantly checking the news can be tempting, especially living in a world that is constantly changing. However, consistently consuming negative news can be scary and it can take a toll on your mental health. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. It’s important to stay informed, but you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. Lastly, try to read some positive and/or uplifting news stories, as well!
By, Julia Cornman, EAP Counseling Intern