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How to Avoid the Doom Scrolling Time Suck

This year has been. Wild, to say the least. Especially this past week. Between the election’s outcome being unknown for days, the internet blowing up over various unrelated things, and the ever-present backdrop of the pandemic, it’s easy to fall into a pastime that we all love and hate: doom scrolling. What is doom scrolling, you ask? If you’ve never heard the term, maybe you’ll know it by description. You’re on Twitter, and you see a trend that scares you a bit. Suddenly an hour passes and you have seen into the void of all things bad in the news, and the void looks back. Nonstop bad times.

            But don’t worry! Although it’s late, here is a guide for what to do when you’ve got the hankering to stare into the void.

            First things first: Meditating may not be a good idea, unless you are very good at filtering thoughts. Being alone with your thoughts is just the worst to avoid doom scrolling. And this includes any activity you do passively—watching TV “for the noise,” going for a walk, etc. are all bad for you when you are trying to avoid doom scrolling, anxiety, or intrusive thoughts.

            So, what can you do? What can you do to prevent doom scrolling now that you have to throw all of your self-soothing “calming” activities out the window?

            The main goal is to do something that actively engages your mind. Don’t do something that you aren’t going to put your full concentration into. You could do sudoku or a crossword puzzle, work on your homework, or play a sport. Crafts and other pieces of art that you have to actively focus on (poetry, prose, sewing, etc.) are another great opportunity to engage your mind and get distracted.

            It may be hard (especially in times like this past week where you’re going to want to look at your phone every 10 minutes to check something), but try to unplug for a while. No Internet, or ban yourself from looking at certain things (essentially use the parental lock on yourself.) Maybe you need some background noise, but make sure you have total control over what you listen to. Use AdBlock on YouTube so you don’t get those god-awful political advertisements, for example.

            Unfortunately, there’s not much more you can do than that. Just…keep busy and avoid the Internet or any other source of distressing information that will pull you into a time suck. There’s only 2 more months left of this absolute hell year. We can do it.


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