Medical City Healthcare - August 14, 2020

Take Care magazine and video page

You may have seen news articles recently about “doomscrolling” and wondered what it was and why it matters. Doomscrolling (also called doomsurfing) refers to a tendency to continue scrolling through bad, sad or depressing news. For some, the obsessive search through news related to the coronavirus pandemic is a habit they can’t stop or scale back.

“Doomscrolling is a new term for a process that’s been going on for a long time,” says Sherry Cusumano, Administrative Director of Community Education and Clinical Development at Medical City Green Oaks Hospital and President of the North Texas Affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “It has to do with surfing and social media. You become hooked on the process.”

Cusumano says that clicking link after link of negative information can ultimately change how you view the world.

“What happens,” Cusumano says, “is that you can lose track of time and find yourself feeling anxious and frightened. For many people, the pandemic and the isolation it has imposed has magnified the problem.”

She suggests ways to avoid doomscrolling, including:

  • Enter positive search terms to change the algorithm in your phone
  • Keep track of your screen time and set limits
  • Leave your phone at home once in a while
  • Don’t take your phone into the bedroom at night
  • Unfollow sources/search terms that trigger negative emotions

“Stick with things that enhance your life and make it better,” Cusumano says. “Becoming aware of what you’re doing and the impact it’s having is very important. Do what makes you feel good about being alive. Take care of yourself. And if you think that you might need help, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help.”

How to beat doomscrolling (and depression) with happiness hormones

Now that you’ve got a handle on your social media usage, what will you do with all the extra time on your hands? We’ve got you covered! All of these feel-good activities may activate your own natural hormones that are responsible for lifting your mood and helping you beat the blues.

To activate dopamine, the reward chemical:

  • Complete a task (one that you’ve been avoiding may be especially rewarding)
  • Indulge in self-care activities
  • Eat your favorite food
  • Celebrate little victories

To activate serotonin, the mood stabilizer:

  • Try meditation
  • Go for a run in your neighborhood
  • Get some sun (safely, of course)
  • Take a nature walk
  • Go for a swim
  • Ride a bike

To activate oxytocin, the love hormone:

  • Spend time with your best (furry) friend
  • Video chat with your best (human) friend
  • Hug your family (air hugs and air high-fives for everyone else)
  • Give out compliments
  • Cook and share a meal with a loved one

To activate endorphins, the natural pain reliever:

  • Laugh with a friend
  • Watch a comedy or funny video
  • Try essential oils such as lavender or bergamot
  • Enjoy some dark chocolate
  • Exercise

Read “How to be mentally healthy during the coronavirus crisis” for more tips to improve your mental health during COVID-19.

At Medical City Healthcare, we’re dedicated to the care and improvement of human life. So, we hope you’ll Take Care!

For more information, call our Ask a Nurse hotline 24/7 or use Find a Doctor online.

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