Today’s mindfulness Monday is about doom scrolling. Spending way too long on our phones and devices scrolling through articles and social media posts that are negative. Following accounts that do not educate or entertain us. Consuming so much negativity that it dulls our sadness, desensitizes our compassion, makes our outrage toxic and sharpens our defenses to become lightening quick.
So what do we do about it?
First step is to unfollow anyone on any platform who makes you feel bad. This isn’t the same as unfollowing people who challenge your perceptions and way of thinking. Or encouraging you to only follow people who talk about happy things. There’s definitely a place for being challenged, educated and informed but you need to be realistic about what and how this makes you feel. If you’re not currently in a position to cope with anything more than happy things then be honest with yourself and make sure what you consume reflects that. Your mental and physical health must take priority.
If it’s too complicated unfollowing or even blocking someone (family/close friends) and you feel you can’t do this, then mute them. For some people in my feed I follow their posts but mute their stories.
Be thoughtful about how, when and how often you check the news. Before bed and first thing when you wake up are a definite no. Choose a time when you’re best able to read through the latest news without it affecting your sleep but still allowing you to process it.
We have continual access at our fingertips to the latest news twenty four hours a day. Whilst being able to catch up with the latest events can be a good thing. It also means that we can be continually flooded with negativity (as this sells well) which we are not capable of coping with. So we need to take it in small doses.
Set limits on how much you’ll read about a certain topic or set a timer. Today I’ll read the BBC headlines and articles for ten minutes and that’s it. Today I know this tragic event happened so my timeline will be flooded with it, so I’ll come back tomorrow.
It is important to be aware of what’s happening in the world but being constantly badgered by it to the point of despair helps noone.
Choose your sources carefully
Chances are if I ask you where you get your news from it’ll be a mixture of social media and websites and possibly the occasional physical paper. Each writer, blogger and journalist comes with their own slant and bias. So you need to decide who you rely on and trust to get your news.
Social media is much quicker at sharing the latest news and information that traditional journalism doesn’t cover. Which can be great but can also mean misinformation spreads like wildfire so we need to check our sources too.
Couple of things I’ve found helpful:
Follow people who show me how to help. They give guidelines, resources and information that enables me to make a situation better.
Follow people who read headlines and stories before tweeting. They don’t pounce on things. This is harder to work out but worth it. Also keeps my outrage in check.
Follow news sources that are geniune. If unsure, check.
Do not follow people who (unless clearly stated and even then with caution) show the video/pictures of victims, tragedies and other disaster porn. This is hugely important.
Get off your phone/laptop/iPad etc. When you go to reach for your phone unnecessarily, stop and take a deep breath. We’re addicted to our electronics and we need to minimise our time on them. If you want to see how much time you automatically go to pick up your phone needlessly: do a tally on a piece of paper throughout the day. You’ll be amazed!