Doomscrolling is typically associated with the consumption of news, often bad news such as international conflicts, via social media in an endless scroll on one’s own phone. However, the term can be applied to the endless scroll of somebody’s TikTok FYP or Instagram feed stimulating the brain right before turning in for the night. Although it’s difficult to put down the phone, it is better for both your mind and body to avoid it before bed.
Keep Your Phone, But Be More Productive
For some of us merely being apart from our phone can be a cause for stress with 53% of participants in a 2008 UK study reporting feelings of anxiety when they lose their phone, run out of battery, or don’t have coverage in a condition dubbed “nomophobia.” If this sounds familiar, perhaps it isn’t in the cards to put down the phone cold turkey.
Instead of ditching the phone entirely, try using it more productively. Learn a new language with Duolingo, practice mindfulness with an app like Insight Timer, or even harken back to your childhood with a coloring page from Happy Color. There are a number of ways for your tech to work with you, not against you, so keep them in mind when you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of your social media feeds.
Do Something With Your Hands
Oftentimes we end up scrolling through our phones out of sheer boredom, and it’s hard to stop once you start. However, if you keep your hands busy, then you’re unable to continue scrolling on your phone.
Crafts such as crocheting and knitting are excellent hobbies that often require more concentration for those who are still learning the skill. While starting a new hobby can seem daunting, you don’t have to start entirely from scratch if you want to keep your hands busy.
Pulling out a notepad to doodle or reaching for a crossword puzzle are also excellent ways to keep your mind and your hands engaged in an activity separate from your phone that doesn't require learning a new skill.
Stretch It Out
Doing something physical can be a tremendous way to get out of your head and channel your energy into doing something with your body. Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a yogi, taking the time to do some yoga poses or general stretches can allow you the chance to recenter and focus on the positive as opposed to the overwhelmingly negative space of news channels and social media.
While some people seek out the news and the media as a cure for boredom, others look to news outlets to validate their own feelings about current events. Conflicts between nations or natural disasters can trigger feelings of fear and unease and we often trick ourselves into thinking that reading more about the event will make us feel better, but this is frequently not the case.
Oftentimes, people look to news sources to validate their feelings on a certain subject. When this happens, it can be easy to stay in a perpetual loop of reading the newest updates on a situation and unintentionally becoming more and more worried than they were before. When feelings of worry or concern overwhelm us, it is important to express these feelings as it helps prevent the mental spiral many find themselves in when internalizing their concerns. Reaching out to a loved one can be an incredible way to get these feelings out, but journaling your feelings can suffice as well.
Get Out of Bed
For the nights when you’re already in bed but stuck in a continuous TikTok scroll and struggling to feel tired, do yourself a favor and allow yourself to get out of bed entirely. Staying in bed for prolonged periods of time tossing and turning reinforces sleeplessness on a physiological and psychological basis. If you’ve sat in bed trying to fall asleep for more than 20 minutes, then it’s time to get out of bed for a little bit.
This isn’t giving up on sleep for the night, far from it actually as the goal is to spend no more time than 30 minutes out of bed. Rather, try to relax yourself with sedentary and relaxing activities such as reading, listening to soft music, or doing puzzles like Sudoku that won’t be overwhelmingly stimulating and help you relax enough so that you can go back to sleep with little incident.
Doomscrolling is far too easy to do especially when you’re trying to avoid the next day from coming along. Whether it’s right before you brush your teeth or as you’re lying in bed, the continuous and never-ending scroll offered by nearly every social media platform is an easy distraction but horrible in promoting restful sleep. Whether you stress yourself out reading the latest headlines or you find yourself Insta-stalking your fourth grade teacher at 2am, it’s important to separate your tendency to scroll from your bedtime routine.
For those who find it especially difficult to say no to their phone, trying the out-of-sight-out-of-mind strategy could be helpful. First set the phone down (ideally out of arm’s reach), and then put on your Nodpod weighted sleep mask to block out the light from your notifications and drift off thanks to the Deep Touch Pressure before you can realize what’s happened.