Have you ever found yourself jumping from one bad story to the next on your phone or your computer? Or watching the news and it feeds you an anxiety provoking story and you channel surf to see who else is leading with that story and if there is more information you can glean from the tease of the first story?
This common experience is called doomsurfing, or doomscrolling, a habit we get into which has us surfing or scrolling from news feed to news feed gathering info on some traumatic news bit. There has been much debate around the role the media has in forming opinions or beliefs, reporting "false news" or jumping on a story before it's well vetted. The question often asked is what role does the media have in creating sensationalized news coverage of traumatic events? School shootings? Riots? Police brutality? Alone all these events create a global unease within society.
Yet, a better question to ask is what control do we have in how we let the news into our daily lives? How do we manage the onslaught of news reports when something traumatic happens in our community? And, how do we create a safety net around us so we do not spiral down taking in more information than our emotional state can handle?
There are many ways we can work to create boundaries around how much time we allow ourselves to take in challenging news feeds. Phones have time limits on different apps that you can pre-program in, or program in at the time you might need it. These allow you only a specified amount of time to scroll through any given app that you designate as challenging to your mental health, whether it be a news feed or social media. Other things that are helpful, is when there is a challenging news story that breaks, create a boundary around how long you will allow yourself to sit and gather unfolding information. Most new information on any given event comes out in the first 5 minutes of the top of the hour, and then its all reiteration. Allowing yourself a break from the ongoing coverage is not going to prevent you from learning the facts as they come to light.
In these times, it feels like there is a big news story hitting every few weeks. It is overwhelming to even the sturdiest of psyches. It's important to have a plan of how you intake any of these stories so that you can easily put that into action when it's necessary.