We’ve all done these: mindlessly scrolling through our phone, aimlessly swiping through the news, randomly clicking links.
We can lose hours of our day to this type of behavior and still feel unsatisfied. This type of behavior—known as doom-scrolling—has become increasingly common, especially in today’s era of constant news and updates.
But what many people don’t realize is that it’s slowly numbing our minds and keeping us from being productive or creative. It may seem harmless at first but it can quickly spiral out of control and create an addiction cycle that’s hard to break.
Recognizing warning signs of mind-numbing addictions
You may not realize it, but the signs of a mind-numbing addiction are there if you know where to look.
For instance, if you find yourself doom-scrolling away an entire evening, that’s not just a “bad habit,” but rather a behavior that’s craving reinforcement more and more.
It may start slow with occasional dips into the app, but then you find yourself checking them far more frequently than intended. It could also be games, streaming platforms, or emails—all of which can lead to a fixation with your digital devices and mindless consumption for hours on end.
If you recognize any of these patterns in your behavior, take action before your addiction has time to take root. Remember that time addictions create enduring changes in the brain and can be difficult to kick afterward.
The benefits of unplugging & staying present
While doom-scrolling can be a habit you fall into without realizing it, taking steps to actively unplug from technology can have some seriously positive results.
Taking breaks from social media or any other type of technology can help reduce your stress levels, improve your sleep quality, and give your brain the much-needed reboot it needs.
Plus, heading offline can also help you focus on being more mindful and present in the moment. When we’re constantly bombarded by notifications, emails, messages, and ads from every screen we use, it becomes more difficult to be present and aware in our everyday lives.
By taking a break from social media or even just turning off notifications for a few hours each day, you will find that you’re better able to focus on the task at hand and take care of yourself in ways that are more meaningful than endless scrolling ever could be.
How to break the cycle & reclaim your time & life
Breaking free from mind-numbing addictions such as social media fixation is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. It requires you to take control of your habits, and your mindset and gradually take measures to break free from the cycle of compulsive behavior.
Here are three ways you can break the cycle:
- Going on a cleanse
Take charge by temporarily taking a break from social media, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
Setting limits is key—committing to only 30 minutes a day can help structure how you spend your time online. Depending on how serious your addiction is, consider deleting certain apps from your phone altogether.
- Turning off notifications
These pesky notifications happen more often than we think and they take away our self-control when we engage with our phones or apps, creating an involuntary habit.
Taking charge of when and how often we get these notifications gives us power over our own decisions and helps us stay intentional about our time spent on social media.
- Installing extensions
If you’re having difficulty limiting yourself, try installing extensions that will help break free from the compulsion to doom and scroll into oblivion.
What to do when you feel the urge to check your devices
Here are some things you can do when you feel the urge to check your devices:
- Take a walk around the block or go for a run—a change of scenery is always good for the soul.
- Spend quality time with family and friends: Make plans with them instead of scrolling aimlessly through social media feeds.
- Set boundaries: Schedule when you will be on and off your device and stick to them. Better yet, keep your device away for a set period.
- Challenge yourself with something new or different: Learn how to play the piano, knit, or try a hand at gardening—the possibilities are endless! All these activities require focus and will help take your mind off checking devices unconsciously.
Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing—and that’s especially true when it comes to social media. Social media can be an incredible force for good, but it can also become an addiction if we’re not careful. Whether you’re using it to share your thoughts, express yourself, or just stay connected, it’s important to remember that we are all only human and that our time and energy are finite. Take control of your social media consumption and find a balance between your online and real-life experiences starting today.