I stumbled upon something that caught my attention while scrolling through my time-killing bad habit of social media. On Snapchat, Poosh.com, a site I follow, addressed “doom scrolling.”

It turns out “doom scrolling” is when we crawl in bed at night and scroll through our phones to see what is happening on social media or the web. We think that this routine helps us unwind and fall asleep better.

I already knew that using technology before going to bed is supposed to stimulate your brain which is the opposite of what we want before trying to get some rest. But “doomscrolling” is actually one step worse: Thoughts of doom are the last thing in your mind before you sleep.

So since about March, and more so recently, we’ve seen nothing but doom on social media, with a few cute animal memes mixed in for good measure.

I did a little experiment to see how many good things are actually on the social media giant which I most often frequent. I saw COVID, COVID, unemployment, protesting, police officer-bashing, politics, Dr. Fauci, racial inequity, sexual exploitation of children, Pelosi, a Trump meme, Biden, a shooting investigation, and acute flaccid myelitis . . . before I finally got to someone’s vacation pics. No lie. It took scrolling through all of those posts before I got to something good.

Maybe this is why I dream of jumping off a cliff or my hair being on fire.

Thank goodness Poosh gave some great tips for managing my social media experience.

First, they said set a timer. Only scroll for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the timer goes off, change your scenery and put the phone down. We want to know what is happening and stay informed, so newspapers are always a good option or a trusted online website.

Second, they said to stay mindful as we’re on our phones or computers and remember why we went on in the first place. Ask yourself, “Have I found what I needed? Or am I mindlessly being sucked into learning why Jimmy Fallon thinks we really don’t need debates?”

Third, they said to break the cycle with positivity. Bookmark some websites or social media accounts that make you feel good, and when you find yourself going down the “doom scrolling” path, open those positive pages up.

They also suggested creating a physical separation from our device by leaving our phones at home when we go for a walk or run an errand, especially when spending time with family and friends. When we play, pray, joke or laugh, our brain gets a feedback message that all is well.

So for the sake of good sleep and better mental health, I’m going to make an effort to put the phone away long before I go to bed. But maybe I’ll go a step further and put Facebook away … altogether!

T.A. LeBrun works with the Mille Lacs Messenger, an APG/ECM publication.

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