Doomscrolling and Employee Mental Health

With many of our employees working at home, many of our clients are asking about mental health and keeping the team stable and safe.  With 2020 being what it has been thus far (Civil rights and unrest with BLM, Covid-19 and families worried about personal finances),  many employees are falling into the trap of Doomscrolling.

What is Doomscrolling?

Doomscrolling is what we go through when we are in an internet rabbit hole of negative news.  Humans are naturally wired to look for risks and without the same level of social interaction we’re accustomed to, it can be very difficult to pull yourself out of the negativity.  It’s not uncommon to find that you’ve spent a couple of hours before bed scrolling through negative messages that ultimately stay with you during sleep.  Not only does this affect your sleep and mental wellbeing, with the isolation that many of us are currently experiencing, it can be very difficult to simply turn the phone off (when you’re looking for entertainment).  Furthermore, it has been found that the amount of time spent doing this is directly proportional to how much worse you’re going to feel after you’re done.

When we engage in doomscrolling, we actively promote negative thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations

How can employers help?

  1. Integrate a Gratitude Practice: One thing we’ve done here at CTO Boost for years is practicing gratitude.  At the end of your morning meeting or daily touchpoint, go around the circle and ask every team member to say what they’re grateful for.  Yes, it can feel awkward at first but you’ll notice quickly that teams are supportive and while sometimes the gratitude can be as simple as appreciating their hot coffee that morning, many times, it does expand into deeper things such as being thankful for a nice conversation with a family member the night before or, finally nailing that recipe.  This is a wonderful way for team members to pull themselves out of the negativity, and also to cheer each other on while getting to know one another.
  2. Virtual Game Night: It’s no secret that many tech employees are lovers of gaming so why not incorporate that into a biweekly event?  For those who are interested, it would be a welcome distraction from some of the negativity in the news and the fact that many employees are living alone or in roommate situations – feeling stuck with each other and getting deep into anxieties and fears.  Lighten it up with a game night and support employee mental health.
  3. External Counselling: There are many coaches and counselors whose services can be made available to employees during this time. An experienced counselor can make a world of difference for someone who is struggling with the constant barrage of messages in the media.  This can be 100% anonymous and will allow your team to have a safe outlet to share their fears and concerns.

You can also, of course, check in and connect with yourself. Use the time you free up from doomscrolling to spend on more productive activities: reading, starting a creative project, spending time with the family you are quarantined with, exercising, or simply taking a walk and enjoying your natural surroundings and sunlight.  This is the perfect time to focus on the things you typically don’t have time for.