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Why Doomscrolling could be ruining your health

Published 19/05/2023

At Cloudfm we’re fortunate to have several colleagues that have volunteered to become Wellbeing Guides. This means that they have been trained in Mental Health First Aid and they all bring their training, their own empathy, life experience, patience and listening skills to help any colleague who is struggling that day – whatever the cause.

We are so grateful to them for giving of themselves and their time so generously.

One of the recent Health and Wellbeing articles shared by the team was about Doomscrolling. We think it’s worth sharing. Our addiction to our smart phones is almost universal. And most of us could benefit from being reminded to put down the phone and step away for a good proportion of our day.

Why are we doomscrolling?
Human beings are hardwired to learn and to want to know what’s going on, it’s how we’ve survived. Its why people slow down when there’s an accident on the road – we’re curious. Doomscrolling is a result of partly how humans are naturally, and partly the current environment. In the age we’re in right now, there is no shortage of bad news. It can be very tempting to try and consume everything, and it seems never-ending.

On top of this, our phones demand our attention: headlines and the way social media is tailored for our interests continually pique our attention and feed our habits and comparison to others. This often leads to feelings of overwhelm and hopelessness.

How does doomscrolling affect our sleep?
In the hours leading up to bedtime, as natural light levels decrease, our brains start to produce a hormone called melatonin, which causes our alertness to begin to dip. It signals to our bodies to wind down and prepare for sleep. However, we counteract that by looking at our devices which ommits blue light and provides stimulation, signalling to our brain and body to remain active and keep engaged. We have to make a concerted effort to keep our devices away from our bedrooms so we’re not tempted to pick them up, turn down lights, grab a book and do everything we possibly can to get a goodnights sleep. If you’re scrolling through your device you’re not doing this!

What can people do to stop doomscrolling?
One of the questions to ask is yourself is, ‘If I weren’t using my phone, what would I be doing?’ Once you have awareness of how much time you’re spending on your devices (which they now even tell you!), it opens up a space of curiosity. ‘I could be reading or baking or working out’.

It’s important to stay informed and know what’s happening in the world, but it’s like checking WhatsApp or emails: we can’t constantly be doing it. Surely, we have other stuff to do right?! We can allow some time for this but it shouldn’t be taking up all of our downtime. A good way to do this is to give ourselves permission to allot specific time in the morning, during the day, and then after dinner. You can decide whether or not this is helpful for you. However, doomscrolling into the night is another place where we can be vulnerable. We’re tired, we want to unwind, and just like that, we rev up that cycle again.

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