Sometimes, it’s kind of hard to imagine that the things you do for fun might come back to haunt you years later.

When I was a teenager, for instance, I literally lived on Dr. Pepper and Flaming Hot Cheetos. Now, though, I have to moderate my intake of junk food to help keep my blood sugar in the green. If I’d taken care of myself more effectively then, I wouldn’t have to worry about it now.

In a lot of ways, social media works in a very similar manner. Spending too much time blankly scrolling can aggravate anxiety and other issues. You should be aware of the amount of time you spend on social media, and be sure that you’re using it in a healthy way. This means mindful use over doomscrolling, and setting reasonable limits.

Doomscrolling vs. Mental Health

Most of us know that too much scrolling can be horrible for our mental and physical health. Everyone knows that lurking Instagram stories is a great way to develop a negative self-image, even when we understand that content is highly curated and often fake. We also know that mindless scrolling through TikTok and Reddit can be equally draining and desensitizing. 

Overdoing social media consumption is commonly referred to as “doomscrolling” for a reason. The term was popularized during the Covid-19 pandemic and refers to our urge to satisfy our fascination with “bad” or negative news. Compulsive scrolling through this kind of content can not only lead to poor self-perception, dark thoughts, and other issues that can exacerbate our mental health, but it can also affect us physically.

When we consistently doomscroll for awful news, conspiracy theories, and other negative press, our brains release a stress hormone called cortisol, which can reap all sorts of havoc on our bodies. Too much cortisol is often a one-way ticket to severe anxiety or depression. 

Setting Social Media Boundaries

However you look at it, doomscrolling is a bad habit to get into, but we all do it from time to time. The key is to strike a healthy balance between scrolling and mental breaks.

Setting time limits, balancing “good” news features, and maybe avoiding social media altogether for an entire day might be great places to start. 

A lot is going on in our world today, to say the least. It can be super easy to open your phone and be instantly bombarded with negative news that you have no control over, but which still affects you. Like any reasonable human, knowing what’s going on and how best to respond to situations when they arise is essential. 

That said, taking breaks is vital to your mental health. Try to remember that it’s essential to be informed, but that scrolling endlessly won’t change the outcome of the information you’re consuming. Bombarding yourself with endless takes on these situations won’t make them better, either. 

Here are a few tips to help you break up with the doom:

  • Remove notifications from your phone. You can’t be sucked in all day if your phone isn’t going off whenever some rando comments on a thread you read once. 
  • Adjust your “do not disturb” settings. Your phone has a “focus” setting that will turn off all notifications, calls, texts, and other alerts for a period of your choice. I set mine from 9pm-7am daily.  If I don’t do this, I’ll sit up late scrolling Reddit for no good reason.
  • Unfollow problematic commentary. If you’re in the habit of doomscrolling and know you won’t stop, even with self-imposed time limits, you always have the option to unfollow people and pages that trigger you on social media. 
  • Delete problematic apps. What if you can’t find a good balance between the scroll and your life with any app or news outlet? Try deleting an app for a while and see how you feel. If you feel better for having lost it…then it’s not a loss. 

Social Media Isn’t All Doom and Gloom

Social media can be a powerful tool for change, connection, outreach, and even positive global communication. These are all genuinely wonderful things that our planet sorely needs. However, they need to be used with reason

Balance is required for harmony. To get the most out of social media without trapping yourself in its negative aspects, you need to find the right niche. You need news sources that help keep you informed without bogging you down with endless conjecture, rabbit holes, or other desensitizing content.

The world can be a dark place, but it is also a beautiful place, too. Get up. Put your phone down. Go outside. Touch grass. Breathe. Enjoy your family and friends. Life is made up of this stuff, and it’s far more important than any random news story of the day.

Whatever your perfect balance turns out to be, seeking it is vital for your health.