Healthy Living: Doomscrolling and screen time


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We are roughly 8 months in when it comes to this Pandemic and of course there are still a lot of questions surrounding the virus leaving many feeling uncertain about the future. Because we are encouraged to limit social interactions, we may find ourselves spending more time online and on social media apps, and we may find ourselves doing something that is being referred to as doomscrolling.  

Dr. Jim Polo is the Behavioral Health Medical Director with Regence Blueshield explains the concept, “Which means they’re scrolling through or surfing through the internet looking at negative story after negative story, even though it is sad, disheartening and depressing.” 

Dr. Polo says this behavior is pretty typical, as our brains are hardwired to look for negative situations that will cause problems or conflict.  

“It’s part of our survival instincts so that we can plan ahead to avoid or prepare for whatever is threatening.” 

Careful though, Dr. Polo says spending too much time looking at negative media can really create some problems. He says this behavior can lead to anxiety or fear, even causing emotional difficulties. It can also lead to physical discomfort, which includes eye strain, blurry vision and headaches.  

He explains how we can avoid doom scrolling and it’s negative impacts, “Remember your purpose. What did you go online for? Stick to it and make sure that you finish what you started to do.” 

We all know it can be easy to get distracted while spending time online, from pop ups to news alerts, there is always something trying to steal your attention.  

Dr. Polo says the key here is moderation, so set limits. He says use a timer, make sure that you’re only online for the amount of time that you want to be. There are even applications that will time you out from staying on particular websites too long. 

Next, Dr. Polo says it is important to be mindful, “Understand your body and emotions and know what your triggers are when you are starting to feel uncomfortable or anxious. Use those triggers as a guide to change your behavior.” 

Now when it comes to protecting our eyes from all of this screen time, and this goes for your kids who are learning remotely right now as well, Dr. Polo says follow the 20-20-20 rule; “That is for every 20 minutes that you spend online, take a 20 second break and make sure that you’re focusing your vision at least 20 feet away.” 

Now if none of this is working, Dr. Polo says turn your computer or devices off. He says connect with friends, or get out get some fresh air and get active! He says get into a new project or hobby that you enjoy. All of those things will help us get through the uncertainty that has been 2020.  


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