With World Mental Health Day coming up on 10th October, many will be looking at ways to protect their headspace amid the news of the ongoing cost of living crisis and the recent conflict in Ukraine.
Doomscrolling, meaning obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news, can promote feelings of anxiety and depression, and burnout. The high-stress level can cause a lack of appetite and an inability to sleep and do everyday tasks.
Martin Preston, founder and chief executive at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere has warned that compulsively watching the news and doomscrooling can cause ‘worry burnout’.
‘Doomscrolling is spending excessive time scrolling through news sites and social media, absorbing negative news. This condition is more prevalent than ever, as more people slip into a damaging cycle of reading negative news about the rising cost of living, Covid pandemic and Ukraine crisis.’
Doomscrolling can have a negative impact on an individual’s mental health, often triggering and worsening feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, fear, and feelings of distress.
For some, the added risk is that too much time spent focusing on these weighted problems can cause ‘worry burnout’.
Constant worrying can affect your emotional and physical health, negatively impacting your day-to-day life, relationships, career and other aspects. Worrying is a normal part of human life, but during the unprecedented times of the pandemic, people have been exposed to ‘worry burnout’, when a person feels overwhelmed and worn out by worry.
How can you overcome worry burnout?
Everyone gets worried sometimes, but if left untreated, it can affect your physical and mental well-being. While there’s no way to get rid of worrying completely, there are methods to help you get your stress and worry under control.
When worried and stressed, you need to activate your body’s natural relaxation response, which helps to slow your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and balance your mind and body.
Meditation has many health benefits and is a highly effective way to relieve stress, soften anxiety and improve your mental well-being. Taking time to relax the mind with meditation gives you the space to separate your energy, attention and emotions.
Write down your worries
According to research, writing can help boost positive emotions and reduce worries and anxiety. Spending 20 minutes daily writing about positive experiences can improve your physical and psychological health.
The aim is to find the positive in worrying situations to reduce stress, tension and built-up anger. Start by thinking of the thing that makes you feel worried and begin writing about the positives you can take from the experience.
Physical activity can help lessen worrying and greatly influence your physical and mental well-being. Exercising regularly, even if that’s just 10 minutes a day, can help individuals suffering from worry burnout.
When exercising, breathing deeper triggers the body’s relaxation response. A cardiovascular activity, like walking outside for 20–30 minutes several times per week, can improve sleep, increase energy and increase stress-busting endorphins. Other forms of physical activity that can help cope with worry burnout are gardening, circuit training, pilates, yoga and tennis.
Reaching out to family and friends for help and support is crucial when coping with worry burnout. Socialisation increases a hormone within our bodies that can decrease anxiety levels and make us feel more confident in our ability to deal with stress.
Limited social support has been linked to increased levels of depression and loneliness. It has been proven to alter brain function and increase the risk of alcohol use, drug abuse, depression and suicide. Social interactions with family and friends are crucial in how you function daily.