Doom scrolling is real – at least for me. I am an avid news hound, reading multiple sites and platforms a day on all things current events. Given the pandemic, all things have been coronavirus-centric since last Spring. That said, I usually read my morning news – or watch it on the morning news program – then simply, turn it off. I’ve always been able to compartmentalize the news I choose to consume. I also work with the media for a living, so the ability to remove myself from the news, while still staying informed, is critical to keeping me sane professionally and personally.
What I haven’t been able to compartmentalize, though, is the content I consume on social media. A place that used to exist for connecting with old friends and making new ones has now become another avenue for sharing news (or stories that appear to be news). I want to be on social media to connect and share with old and new friends. I don’t want to be on social media to consume false information and witness angry, hurtful comments from people who disagree on that information.
That said, my constant scrolling continued – when I woke up in the mornings and before I went to bed in the evenings. The mindless scrolling turned into a vehicle for passing time. And as more time passed, the more I noticed my mood shifting after spending too much time on my phone.
Truthfully, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with social media, but most days, the good outweighs the bad. I like keeping up with my college friends and their lives on social channels. And I like chatting with my cousins who don’t live nearby, swapping photos of our growing families and sharing life updates.
But lately, I’ve found the negative aspects outweighing the good ones. That’s when I knew I needed to make a seemingly simple change: stop the doom scrolling. I took a pause on using social media apps on my phone – and so far, so good! Here are three reasons why:
1. Being present
When I stopped the mindless scrolling, I started feeling and acting more present. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. Removing the phone from my morning and evening rituals helped me focus in on other positive habits that have helped keep my stress lower and mind from racing. In the morning, instead of reaching for my phone to quickly glance at a few Instagram stories, I do a few yoga stretches by my bedside to start my day. I’ve come to love those first few moments to myself and I’m looking forward to more mindful mornings.
2. Controlling my worry
Now, I can’t blame social media for my tendency to worry. I’ve always been a worry-wort – mostly about things that are out of my control. Social media doesn’t create worry in my life, but it also doesn’t help me mitigate it. The pandemic has sent my mom-worry into overdrive, and I don’t know about you, but the endless blog posts about “how to keep your kids safe” or terrifying personal accounts of families living through these difficult times is enough to make me want to crawl under my covers and hide. I understand the need and validity for people to share their stories and circumstances to create safe spaces, but the articles in my algorithm always end up piling up on the scary and negative side of things. More than ever, my heart is craving positivity – uplifting stories to keep us afloat as we all navigate these uncharted waters of parenting through a pandemic. Omitting the doom scroll forced me to stare at the positive aspects of my life that have been there all along – my husband and kiddos. Coloring with my four-year-old son before his bedtime, giggling with my baby as he plays fetch with our newest furry family member – you know, the good stuff. The good stuff is what keeps us going, and we can all use more of that.
3. Acting with intention
Social media isn’t all bad. In fact, it connects our world – and our circles – in ways that would otherwise never be possible. During times of separation, it allows us the opportunity to keep our connection with family and friends. It helps us create safe spaces to learn new hobbies, meet new people, and grow our circles. But with all of those opportunities, come challenges. Personally, I found that the challenges for me – overcoming the doom scroll – were mostly eliminated by simply acting with intention. Instead of mindless browsing on my phone when I was “bored,” I made a conscious effort to only log into platforms on my laptop. This way, I had to have a reason to engage online. This way, I wasn’t just killing time, I was choosing to spend time for a pre-determined reason. Again, I know this might sound silly, but truly, having to actively log into a site makes you take a minute to decide if you really even “need” to. When I took my phone out of the equation, it forced me to act with a purpose – and I’ve been more productive because of it.
All that said, I still value the power of social media. I use it for work. I use it to keep up with loved ones. And, I use it to stay connected during a time that we’ve never felt more apart. What I don’t value is the amount of time I’ve wasted scrolling for the sake of scrolling. Do I still get tempted to watch an unhealthy amount of TikTok recipe videos? Yes. Am I better able to control those temptations by placing my phone elsewhere? Also, yes. The point is, we all have to take extra care of ourselves – in any little way we can – to keep charging forward in these unprecedented times. For me, I stopped the doom scrolling to up the self-care. For you, maybe this will help, too.