How often does a “five-minute” phone check turn into hours of screen time? Unfortunately, more often than we admit. Here’s how to shake off the vicious cycle and stop “doomscrolling”
1. Be Mindful
When a crisis occurs, our instinct is to stay alert. During the Covid-19 pandemic, media consumption skyrocketed as our brains craved information to better assess our surroundings. Experts suggest that paying attention to what we are reading or watching helps. Technology “is a function of our choices. How and what we consume digitally is largely up to us,” writes Utkarsh Amitabh, author of The Seductive Illusion of Hard Work.
2. Dedicate one to two hours offline
Today’s algorithms are designed to predict and influence human behaviour. “As you scroll, occasionally you are rewarded,” says Anne McLaughlin, a psychologist at North Carolina State University. She argues that “a continuous social media feed is designed to give you just enough of those rewards to keep you there.” which is why we fall into these rabbit holes. Creating physical separation helps replace doomscrolling cycles with more productive habits.
3. Don’t take your phone to bed
Covid-19 isolation measures have had devastating effects on our physical and mental wellness. To combat loneliness, we’ve turned to our devices for a sense of belonging and social comfort. But too much screen exposure can backfire. “Technology impacts sleep quality in many ways and can keep your brain alert – preventing you from getting a restful night’s sleep”, says digital wellness coach Liana Pavane. Keeping your phone out of reach in the bedroom will avoid the mindless late-night infinite scrolls.