By: Fern Farley,
Marriage and Family Therapist
November 11, 2020
Cope With Doom and Gloom Like You’re An Experienced Therapist:
6 Ways To Decreasing Doom Scrolling & Get Back To The Present
Even your therapist agrees that we are living in a very difficult time. Many of us are feeling hopeless, isolated, and fearful. I wrote this last month when I was finally able to spend more than 5 minutes outside after Sacramento got a much-needed break from the toxic air that was blanketing the West. I took that time to step away from my phone. It was just a few days before that my partner, setting out for their front line job reminded me, “Don’t get newzed”.
In my home the definition of “newzed” is spending hours watching YouTube clips of the news. Following tragic stories from start to finish. Watching 4-hour congressional hearings in their entirety. Doom scrolling across the internet. In short, consuming a large dose of terror, horror, tragedy, death, and corruption. One knows that they have been newzed if they engage in this behavior and feel zapped, hopeless, and anxious. If those around you are expressing concern, but you find yourself diving back into the muddy pond of doom I suggest that you try one or more of the following.
These 6 tools have been tested by a real therapist. Perfection is not the goal. It is just about trying something new to break your habit.
Move away from your device
This may seem obvious but it is harder to do when we are spending all of our time indoors. Working from home can mean that we are required to be on or near our phones and computers all day and into the evening. When we move away from our devices, we can meet our basic needs like food, hydration, and personal hygiene. Close tabs and windows, and put the phone on silent. Take this time to meet your current needs and ignore the message from your brain to get back to your phone. In a loving, non-shaming way, it is okay to tell your brain “No”.
Use your device in a different way
If you’re not able to leave your phone or device, or find yourself rushing back to it with a handful of Cheetos, try using it in a different way. Call or text a friend or family member. Avoid discussing war stories about what you have read or seen in your feed. We are all seeing similar news and generally are aware of what is going on. Try discussing creative projects or what is making you happy or interested these days. Scroll through photo albums of family trips. Make something creative. I enjoy the PicArt app and the Pottery app. Vanillapen allows you to make memes.
Get into your body
Sit or lie on the floor. Bounce a tennis ball. Massage your shoulders, stretch your muscles and flex and extend your joints. Cook a meal for your partner or lift weights. A stool or chair can act as impromptu weight if your local gym is still closed. There are also many free low-impact, body-positive workouts on YouTube to use at home. Make noise, jump around, feel what it’s like to exist inside your body, and not just your head.
Allow yourself to sit with difficult feelings
I don’t have to tell you these are difficult times: racial reckoning, forest fires, Covid-19, post election craziness, and increasing numbers of tropical storms. As a nation and a world, we face multiple existential threats. We fear for the lives of friends and family and for the future of our planet. Distress, fear, anxiety, anger, and sadness are all valid and normal feelings. Even if it is just for a few minutes, tap into your feelings. Let them run through you. Try to identify the different emotions coming up, in a non-shaming way. This can also be done with the support of a therapist or a trusted friend.
Many of us strive to develop a routine. This has been upended by at-home classes, unemployment, or working from home. Set times in the day for meals, work breaks, and exercise. Set an attainable goal for decreasing the amount of time you spend on your device. Most smartphones track usage time. View this data and make an effort to decrease or shift your usage. Commit to decreasing the amount of traumatic material you consume. Ask yourself, “Will this video support or harm my mental health?” Traumatic imagery cannot be unseen, so be very intentional about what you consume. If you do see something traumatic, its impact can be decreased with certain therapies. Try decreasing the impact to your senses and emotions by reading the news highlights rather than watching video footage. Put your phone on silent mode before bed and into the morning. This allows us space and freedom to do other things.
Remind yourself that watching reruns of the same news story will not give you more control over the situation. Remind yourself and loved ones that endlessly consuming current events only provides an illusion of control, such as “If I know all the risks, I can protect myself, my family, and my community”. Please continue to listen and observe local and federal emergency guidelines around safety protocol, and use trusted and vetted sources for your news and scientific research. Remember that news organizations are often companies that benefit from ratings and popularity. Bad news sells, while good news rarely makes it to the top of our feeds. Beautiful and courageous acts are taking place every day.
If you or someone you know is struggling and having difficulty managing alone, please reach out to us at Three Figs Counseling for more support. firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 554-2677. Visit our website for more information https://threefigscounseling.com/
Are you learning to set boundaries, healing from generational trauma, or needing to get out in nature? Or are you exploring gender identity, non binary identity, sexual orientation, intersectional identities, a new career, recent move, unemployment, or just feeling stuck? If so, I think we would be a great fit. I specialize helping those looking to increase self confidence, decrease anxiety and depression, develop interpersonal skills, and heal from past traumas. I specialize working with young adults, teens, children, individuals, families, and couples navigating difficult life transitions.
I am a board certified Licensed Psychotherapist in the Davis and Sacramento area, providing online therapy services to those needing emotional support and connection.