When the world feels overwhelming, it’s easy to fall into a scroll hole. Here we look at some alternatives

The news at the moment is… a lot, right? Both in the UK and globally there seems to be terrible thing after terrible thing unfolding and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it at times. In a group chat with friends recently we admitted we’ve been doomscrolling more, and it seems we’re not alone.

Recent research from Bupa has found a 247% increase in Google searches for ‘terrible morning anxiety’, increasing significantly since the start of 2022, and experts believe doomscrolling has a part to play.

I can certainly relate - scrolling first thing in the morning can be an easy way to peak anxiety and start the day off on a sour note. But why is it we fall so easily into this habit?

"The news is arguably easier for us to access than ever before. All it takes is a few clicks or swipes to find out what’s going on across the world and keep up to date with it all day." says Fatmata Kamara, Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, at Bupa UK.

"Many of us spend our days alongside our smartphones – they’re often one of the first things we see in the morning and the last thing we see at night. Whether it’s push notifications or our social media newsfeeds, it may often feel difficult to avoid the news first thing in the morning.

"If we’re commuting, waiting, or relaxing, our phones aren’t usually far from reach. By default, we might find ourselves turning to our phones if we’re not fully occupied, making doomscrolling a natural by-product.

"Similarly, if a particularly emotive news story catches your attention, especially first thing in the morning, you may find yourself on high alert as your body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, increasing your temptation to refresh your newsfeed and keep up to date with the perceived threat in the news."

Here, we share some tips to help you stop doomscrolling, but the thing I’ve found  most helpful in changing my own habit is replacing it with something else.

So, what can we do instead of doomscrolling for a calmer morning? I’m glad you asked...

1. Read uplifting newsletters

This is my current go-to. It still involves reaching for my phone (so it doesn’t feel too different to my beloved scrolling habit) but it’s more intentional. I go straight to the newsletter folder in my email app and have a read. The trick here is to ensure you’re subscribed to newsletters that leave you feeling inspired. Some of our favourites include Emma Gannon’s The Hyphen, TED recommends and, of course, Happiful.

2. Scroll a happier feed

Social media can be a positive place to scroll, we just may need to do a little tweaking. Have an audit on who you’re following and let go of those accounts that don’t make you feel good. If you’re on Twitter, why not make a list full of accounts that feel like sunshine? If you’re on Instagram, curate your ‘following’ feed and head straight there.

3. Read something beautiful

Sometimes we need to fill our brains with something beautiful to counteract the doom. Pick up a book of poetry or essays that helps you see the good in the world. I loved Ross Gay’s Book of Delights - the perfect antidote to doomscrolling.

4. Meditate

When overwhelm creeps up, our minds crave space. Instead of filling it with fear by doomscrolling, try opening up a little whitespace. Meditation can be a great tool for this, or even just taking a few slow breaths. This can calm our nervous system and give us a moment of pause before launching into our day.

5. Make something

Being creative and making something is a brilliant way to lift your mood. Boosting confidence and giving you a sense of achievement, making something mindfully can also help ease stress. Draw a pattern, add a stitch to your sewing project, write a piece of flash fiction, anything to get those creative juices flowing.

6. Answer these questions...

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, a tool I turn to time and time again is journaling. Getting your thoughts out onto paper can help you detangle them and leave them on the page. Here are some questions to journal on:

  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What’s something I keep thinking about?
  • What do I need today?
  • How can I give myself what I need?

7. Reach out to a loved one

Connecting to others can often give us a big dose of perspective, reminding ourselves that we have people in our lives we care for and who care for us. When you reach for your phone, skip the news apps or Twitter and head to the message app instead and check in with a friend, arrange a coffee with your mum or call your colleague for a catch-up.

8. Take action

When the world feels full of tragedy and injustice, it’s easy to feel powerless. Taking action, even in a small way can help you take that power back. Whether it’s donating to a cause or charity close to your heart, signing petitions or encouraging others to make a stand.

9. Make a mindful cuppa

If you love to start your morning with a hot beverage, try making it a ritual by taking your time with it. Leave your phone in the other room and focus on the process. How does it feel, smell, sound, and taste? Take it all in and get absorbed. This sense of mindfulness helps to ground us in the present moment, helping to lower anxiety and overwhelm.

10. Move your body

Release that nervous energy and stress with some movement. Skip Twitter and go to your music library, play a song you love and shake your tush (we think Beyonce’s latest offering would be perfect for this), or find a gentle playlist and enjoy some yoga. Head outside for a walk, dust off your bike or go for a dip, whatever helps you be in your body, not your anxiety.

If you’re struggling to manage your anxiety, help is available. Use Counselling Directory to find a therapist today.