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  • Jolene Roehlkepartain

Avoiding the Pull of Doomscrolling

We’ve all done it: Scan the news and then gorge on it. Countless horrific headlines dominate the news now, and experts say that we can’t help but doomscroll, which is scrolling through bad news, even though it deeply upsets us.

“We are imprisoned by reactive, primitive brain activity,” Julia Bell told The Guardian. We’ve become “smombies [smartphone zombies] just scrolling through pages of information.”

We don’t need to live like this. Consider:

Placing a time limit on your scrolling—Doomscrolling kicks in when we become mindless and go on autopilot. I pay attention to how quickly I doomscroll and jump around from news source to news source. When I get upset, I scroll faster and jump around more. Get to know your habits. Then slow down. And get off after a certain amount of time.

Processing what you discovered—Doomscrolling affects us because it seeps into our consciousness. What aspect of the news bothers you most? What can you do about it? If it’s nothing, find ways to take control of your life, even if you can’t control the news.

Doing something you love—Doomscrolling can suck the life out of you. Do an activity that gives life and joy. Take a walk in nature. Create art. Have a meaningful conversation with someone. Scroll through positive social-media posts that make you laugh. Volunteer. Dance. Do something you love to do.

Even though we’re bombarded with bad news, it’s important not to let it zap our mental health. “When we play, joke and laugh, our brain gets a feedback message that all is well,” Ned Presnall, a licensed clinical social worker told The Washington Post. “If we want to stay mentally healthy, we need to take time to play and to relish the good things in life.”

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