Better than doomscrolling
Since the pandemic began, many of us have been drawn to searching for clarity in the glare of our portable devices. Known as “doomscrolling,” or the more whimsical “doomsurfing” that makes it sound like it might be fun to ride apocalyptic waves of information, falling into social media rabbit holes brimming with bad news adds to our baseline pandemic stress and erodes our mental health. This week's 5-Minute Recharge offers you some alternatives to doomscrolling.
Let's call it gleesurfing... ONE CLASSIC (ALBUM) QUOTE “Often, I do things just so the residents will smile. And this was another of those ideas. And when I showed them the final piece, they were in fits of hysterics.” – Sydmar Lodge activities director Robert Speker had residents recreate classic album covers to lift their spirits during a lengthy pandemic lockdown
One of many classic album covers recreated at Sydmar Lodge in Edgeware, U.K. THREE GLEEFUL IDEAS #1 LET THE GOOD SINK IN The dirty little secret of the personal growth world, according to psychologist Dr. Rick Hanson, is that most positive experiences tend to slide right off us, leaving no lasting value behind. However, due to our negativity bias, unpleasant experiences stick and often get reformatted into mini horror movies that we run through our minds on repeat. We know from neuroscience that neurons that fire together wire together: our brains change with our experiences. Every time we recall something bad that happened–even scenarios we've vicariously experienced through doomscrolling–we reinforce what we see, hear and feel. Negativity can literally become part of us, wired through repetition into our brain circuitry. The antidote that Dr. Hanson prescribes for hardwired negativity is to let the good sink in: whenever you have a positive experience, stay with it for a breath or longer. Feel it in your whole body and focus on what's enjoyable. Put your good experiences in a mental highlight reel and review it often. It takes effort to override our negativity bias, but it is possible to hardwire positive experiences into our brains. “If you stay with the sense of enjoyment of the experience, it's going to more efficiently turn into a lasting change in your body and be hardwired into your nervous system.” – Rick Hanson #2 THREE'S THE MAGIC NUMBER Exercise is one of the healthiest alternatives to doomscrolling. Based on an analysis of the physical-activity patterns of more than 9,000 U.S. adults, getting sufficient exercise depends on variety. Americans who do three or more different activities per month are more likely to achieve 150 minutes of exercise per week than those doing just one or two activities. Adding variety not only makes it easier to stay motivated and reduces the risk of injury, but combining cardiovascular exercise with strength training is associated with lower rates of obesity than either cardio or strength training alone. “Since they just shut down all of the gyms again, I thought it would be a fun video to post of how people could work out at home.” – Paris Hilton combines cardio and strength training by riding a pink bike around her home, doing sit-ups with an inflatable unicorn, and performing Louis Vuitton handbag arm curls #3 A CURE FOR DOOMSCROLLING Perhaps you've seen the cartoon of the couple in bed with a man bathed in the blue light of doomscrolling as his partner tells him: “Go to sleep. Everything will be worse in the morning.” Two health experts contacted by Brian X. Chen of The New York Times suggested scheduling times for everything including doomscrolling as one of the best ways to deal with the ever-beckoning news stream. The certainty of a schedule can counterbalance the uncertainty that makes us start scrolling in the first place. Time becomes slippery when you scroll, so be sure to set a timer, and never ever doomscroll in bed. “You have to realize you don't want to live your life in a hamster wheel of complete news consumption. It'll take a toll on you...” – Dr. Adam Gazzaley, neuroscientist and co-author of The Distracted Mind *********************************** THE FAST FIVE 1. Facing Things - Nick Childs: Isolated Talks on YouTube (Time: 8 minutes (A pandemic pep talk encouraging you to become your weird, brilliant, and incredible self.) 2. Tired of being stuck at home? This website lets you peek out of windows around the world - Fast Company (Taking in the view from someone else's window sure beats doomscrolling!) 3. How Exercise May Bolster the Brain - Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times (This week in “Exercise is a Miracle Drug,” we're introduced to GPLD1, the liver protein released in exercise that gives your brain a boost.) 4.Tips to Supercharge Your Brain for Work - This Working Life Podcast with Lisa Leong (Time: 25 minutes) (After listening to this episode from Australia, Lynne added flax seeds to her shopping list and a new podcast subscription to her library.) 5. How Pandemics Wreak Havoc–and Open Minds - The New Yorker (Could Covid unleash another Renaissance?) *********************************** YOUR 5-MINUTE RECHARGE CHALLENGE LIFT YOUR GAZE This week’s 5-Minute Recharge challenge is our easiest challenge yet. It comes from Dr. Rick Hanson (of Idea #1 fame) who encourages you to simply lift your gaze away from your screen and toward the horizon. Hanson's advice is based on the idea that the further your gaze, the broader and less egotistical your perspective becomes. This advice is echoed by opthalmologists who are alarmed at an epidemic of nearsightedness among young people excessively focused on their smartphones that puts them at risk of serious eye disorders later in life. Taking regular breaks from screens to take in a larger view not only saves your eyes, but puts less emphasis on the “I.” “When your gaze moves out toward the horizon watch your mind. You'll naturally become more peaceful and you'll have a sense of things as a whole: there will not be such an intense sense of me, myself, and I.” ― Rick Hanson The final peaceful word of advice for entering the week ahead goes to Indiana University Health...