Set aside certain times of the day to read the news, if you must — and if it helps, set a 10-minute timer to remind you to stop scrolling. Another trick is to wear a rubber band around your hand while you are reading the news, and when you believe you are succumbing to doomscrolling, snap the rubber band against your wrist, Dr. Murthy said.
It’s also important to rethink breaks. Before the pandemic, one of our typical lunch breaks involved browsing Facebook. With nowhere to go out for lunch under shelter-in-place orders, browsing the web has become the default work break, an obvious trap that could lead to doomscrolling.
Instead of staying glued to a screen, take a stroll around the block, hop on the exercise bike, prepare your favorite snack. And yes, set calendar appointments even for your breaks, Dr. Gazzaley said.
Exercises in mindfulness can help us break the cycle of information bingeing or prevent us from sinking into a dark place altogether.
Sharon Salzberg, a meditation teacher and author of the book “Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World,” recommended this exercise to feel more connected with others in a time that we can’t see many people:
Take some breaths and think about the people who have helped you in the past. This could be your friends, colleagues and even the restaurant workers bagging your takeout food.
While imagining these people, give them positive wishes. For example: “May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be safe. May you be healthy.”
“You’re gift-giving,” Ms. Salzberg said. “It’s a different way of relating and not feeling isolation.”
Connect with others
Dr. Murthy’s book “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World” underlined the importance of spending 15 minutes a day connecting with the people we care about most. That can help us feel less alone and resist doomscrolling.
But how can we connect with people when we can’t easily see them? In the beginning of the pandemic, many of us turned to videoconferencing apps to virtually connect with friends, colleagues and loved ones. Now, more than four months into the pandemic, many are experiencing “Zoom fatigue.”