Color & Control:

Is doomscrolling stealing your time?…Here’s how to break away

group of young adults sitting on a yellow couch on their cell phones

By Karen Rae

Inspired by a record-breaking year of bad news, “doomscrolling” is the latest term for the habit of obsessively scrolling negative stories.

Amid the pandemic, election headlines from our neighbour, social unrest and more, a new activity has appeared in our lives and lexicons, “Doomscrolling.” Many of us are guilty of it. Coined to refer to the common practice of endlessly consuming negative news, doomscrolling has been defined by experts as a self-destructive behavior that wastes precious time, fuels anxiety and has the potential to hurt our mental health.

Why not do a doomscrolling 180 and spend time focusing on things that inspire joy. If you want to break away from harmful habits and time sinks, try these suggestions that will help you kick the bad news:

Disconnect: It is not easy to set aside phones, tablets, or other digital devices; however, the easiest way to prevent sinking into the bad news pit is to “turn it off.”It’s especially important at bedtime. Rae suggests putting tech away at least an hour beforehand when our minds should be calming down, not reading up!

Time yourself: Digital devices are designed to attract and hold our attention. A great way to avoid looking at newsfeeds for hours on end is to set a timer. Once the timer hits zero, it’s time to move on to a new task.

Subscribe to positive news: If you are the kind of person who has to stay in the know, there’s a way to catch up in a happier way. There are a surprising number of news programs, podcasts and YouTube channels that focus solely on informative stories or use a positive spin in their reporting style.

Disable notifications: Limit the reach of specific noisy apps, like Twitter and Apple News. Rather, consider using your device’s notification settings to turn off interruptions.

Prioritize positives: We often use our phones to fill the void, whether that’s free time, a desire to be heard, or boredom. Work to fill time with meaningful connections by doing the things you love with friends and family. Go for a walk together, share a meal, or just talk.

Use proper perspective: Headlines are crafted to invoke emotion to get readers to click or tune in. When reading the news, keep that in mind. Avoid catastrophizing or thinking of the worst-case scenario. The reality of a story is typically much less severe and could even be fake news.

Track screen time: Do you know where your time is going? Your phone should allow you to keep track. Knowledge is power. Once you see what you’re doing, you might be motivated to change things up.

Focus on you: The things reported in most news stories will not affect your day-to-day life, so it makes no sense to let them impact your mental health and well-being. Try focusing on the things that are important to you and those that bring you joy. Your time is limited, so use it to focus on what matters.

Swap mind-less for mind-full: Try journaling or planning your day ahead of time. When you reflect on mindful behaviours, your more productive use of time will suddently have a more positive impact on both your performance and mental health.

Delete that app: If you can’t ignore something, remove it from your home screen or device. Out of sight, may just be out of mind.

Karen Rae is the founder of the BalancedLife and the creator of the BalancedLife Planner.

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