Maybe a friend shares a link, you watch it, then just a few more – suddenly you look at the time and feel that sudden jolt of angst. Where did all that time go? It happens to many of us, and it impacts us far more than you think. We’ll explore mindless scrolling on your phone and how it may influence your mood, mindset, and emotions – as well as how to help curb the habit.
Do you find yourself mindless scrolling social media endlessly, sometimes without even noticing? Perhaps it’s about negative news events (sometimes called ‘doom scrolling’), celebrity photos, comment sections or clips on TikTok etc. No matter what your preference, it can take hours out of your day. That may sound like an exaggeration for some but if you’re not aware of your phone usage it can add up quickly.
A study has shown that on average Irish people scroll through their phones for 2 hours and 24 minutes a day (link below). Fifteen minutes here and twenty there, suddenly over a day it’s accumulated to a huge amount of your time. Over a period of a week, a month, a year – it’s an enormous amount of your time spent on scrolling through content.
Like most things, within moderation it is harmless to scroll on your phone, especially if it’s done so mindfully. However, for many, when they realise the amount of time that they spend doing it, coupled with the negative feelings they’re left with, they know it’s not helpful to their lives.
How do you know if you’re scrolling too much?
- You can check your usage on most smart phones, simply seeing the amount of time may answer this question for you (see link below).
- You feel empty, guilty or badly about yourself after sitting and scrolling aimlessly on your phone.
- You feel like you’re getting distracted easily even when you’re not on it.
- You feel like there are other things you’d like to do with that time and it’s making you feel like you’re falling behind.
- You lose track of large chunks of time throughout the day and find yourself feeling overwhelmed by this.
- The content that you’re viewing is making you feel bad about yourself or making you feel depressed.
- You’re feeling more anxious in general and can’t pinpoint why (common with doom-scrolling).
- It’s impacting your sleep because you scroll for large periods of time before bed.
- You feel as though you’re not present with your family/friends or are setting a bad example for your children.
But sometimes smart phones and social media feel like a part of our lives now, we often need them to connect and stay up to date right, so how do we find balance?
It’s not a simple task for some. Some people may be in the space of having an actual addiction to their phone, this creates a heavy reliance on it and makes the idea of cutting down on any usage feel frightening. If you’re unsure of whether you may be at risk for a phone addiction have a look at the link at the end of the article.
For others it may not be at the level of addiction yet, but they feel uncomfortable with how much time they unconsciously spend on their phone. It is perhaps something that they don’t know how to improve on so they’re not sure where to start. Here are some ideas if you find yourself wanting to reduce your mindless scrolling and create a healthier relationship with your phone:
- Set time limits on your apps. This can be done with most apps and allows you to consciously choose your daily limits.
- Delete (even if it’s temporarily) social media apps that take up too much of your time. Certain apps are designed to keep you mindlessly scrolling, they provide a short-lived dopamine high that keeps you engaged. By deleting them you remove the temptation all together.
- Write a list of things you enjoy & that you’d like to do instead of mindless scrolling such as reading, calling a friend, writing in a journal etc. This gives you options when you’re feeling stuck/bored. Preparation is key.
- Avoid scrolling first thing in the morning as this impacts your mindset for the rest of the day. Avoid scrolling last thing at night, this impacts your quality of sleep.
- Download other apps that are more helpful to your goals, for examples see the bottom of the article.
- Try a detox of all social media for a period of a week or a month and see how you feel. Then slowly add in from there.
- Get a partner, colleague, or friend to hold you accountable when they see you scrolling.
- Keep your phone in a neutral place rather than in your pocket or right in front of you. This way you’re less likely to scroll out of habit.
- If you’re feeling like you are too used to unconsciously using it, no matter what you try, you can even buy a far more basic phone that doesn’t allow for the apps that distract you.
Like any life change or new habit, remember that it will take time. Don’t give up because you’ve had a bad day of scrolling, instead set your intentions to do better the next day. If the idea of having an extra hour, to do something else that feels more meaningful to you, sounds good – then it may be time to give it a try.
More information on smartphone addiction:
- Article mentioned regarding usage:
- How to check phone usage:
Other apps that may be more useful and goal oriented:
- ‘Headway’ (bite size book summaries)
- ‘Aura Health’ (meditation, affirmations & mindfulness app)
- ‘5-minute journal: self- care’ (gratitude journal with reminders and mood tracker)
- ‘Happify’ (includes science-based activities & games to reduce anxiety & negative thoughts)
This article was written by Lauren Hall, pre-accredited and newly qualified Psychotherapist at The DMC Clinic. If you would like to discuss how any of the topics mentioned above are impacting your mental health, please contact The DMC Clinic to arrange an appointment.