With everything in the world going on right now, we must step back every once in a while to regroup and refocus. With open access to social media, it’s easier to be in a constant state of worry. While it’s lovely having the privilege of the world and answers at our fingertips, it also has the potential to be a significant stressor.
Social media and news stories can cause worsening symptoms of anxiety, depression, and overall stress, especially if it becomes an obsessive part of someone’s routine. During breaking news events, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the sense of urgency.
A newer term called “Doomscrolling” explains the time spent on electronic devices during breaking news or worldwide emergency events. According to Mirriam Webster, the definition of “Doom scrolling” means “The tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing” (Webster, 2020). When a person doom scrolls, it can be up to hours at a time focused on negative news.
With the recent events of the attack on Ukraine and the not-so-recent COVID-19 pandemic, many people are experiencing an increase in media hyper focused on these events. We agree that staying up to date with worldwide news is essential, but we also know how stressful an increase in urgent media can be.
Don’t just take our word for it! The article “Global Adversities, the Media, and Mental Health” by Frontier Psychology states, “A major consequence of the above-mentioned global problems and the social construction of reality by the media is a massive increase in the uncertainty, and unpredictability that characterizes the world at large and, consequently, individual lives as well. It is well-known that the media pushes negative information and people display a negative bias towards the news. Across several studies, the media has been consistently identified as a source of chronic stress and decreased mental well-being” (Frontier Psychology, 2022).
What can you do to lower stress caused by the influx of media?
- 1. Take a break.
- 2. Give yourself time limits on catching up with the news/social media.
- 3. Don’t use your phone or watch the news before bed.
- 4. Spend time doing your hobbies or going outside to get some fresh air.
- 5. Meditate for a set time without the distraction of electronics.
- 6. Call a friend and talk about something other than the news.
If you feel the need to reach out for help, here are some resources to guide you:
24/7 Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline at 1-800-724-0461
Don’t feel like talking? Text SUPPORT to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741
24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
Chautauqua County Guide to Emergency Services
Dunkirk Mental Hygiene Clinic (716) 363-3550
Jamestown Mental Hygiene Clinic (716) 661-8330
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