It can be a normal reaction to uncertainty. When you're afraid, it's natural to want to know what's happening around you. Being absorbed in bad news for a long time can be bad.

People with high levels of problematic news consumption are more likely to have worse mental and physical health, according to a new study. What can you do to stop it?

We talked to Australians in the state of Victoria about how they were able to stop doom scrolling. There are some things you can do to help.

Doomscrolling – unhelpful and harmful

There is a description of what happens when someone continues to consume negative news and information on the internet.

doom scrolling during crises is harmful, according to research. People felt overwhelmed by the amount of news they were consuming. People who consumed more news about the Pandemic were more worried about it.

Exposure to news about catastrophes is linked to negative mental health outcomes according to research.

Choosing to take control

Many found themselves in a state of doom. Many people were given more spare time because of the bad news. Limits on news exposure have been found to help people deal with it.

Some of the longest-running lock downs in the world were experienced in the state capital of Victoria. We wanted to know how Victorians were managing their news consumption, so we launched a survey and conducted interviews with people who limited their news consumption.

Many people increased their news consumption when the lock downs started. Most of our participants introduced strategies to curb their doom scrolling because they realized it was making them feel anxious or angry.

These news reduction strategies were found to be beneficial. It was easier for people to connect with others. Some of their strategies are listed here.

1. Make a set time to check news

Set aside a specific time and think about what time of day will have the most positive impacts for you.

One participant set a time limit on her scrolling as she waited for her morning cup of tea. Others preferred to save their news engagement for later in the day so that they could start their mornings focused.

2. Avoid having news 'pushed' to you

It's possible to get caught up in a doom scrolling spiral when you come across news. The participants were able to engage on their own terms because they avoided having news pushed to them. It's possible to turn off push notifications for news and social media applications.

3. Add 'friction' to break the habit

Making it harder to access news can give you an opportunity to think about what you're reading.

A participant hid her social media and news apps on the last page of her phone's home screen. She said this strategy helped her reduce doom. Other participants stopped taking their phone into their bedroom at night and deleted browser bookmarks that gave them quick access to news sites.

4. Talk with others in your household

Inform other people in your household that you want to manage your news consumption better. When other household members watched, listened to, or talked about a lot of news, it was difficult for participants to limit their consumption.

Even when one person finds the news comforting, another finds it upsetting, having a discussion helps people come to common agreements. One couple in our study agreed that one of them would watch the midday news while the other would go for a walk, but they would watch the evening news together.

Staying informed is still important

None of these practices involve avoiding the news completely. In crisis situations, you need to be aware of how to stay safe. There are ways to balance the need to stay informed with the need to protect your health.

If you're in a crisis where negative news can overwhelm you, these strategies can help you strike that balance. As we navigate an unstable world, this will be an important challenge.

Kate Mannell is a research fellow in Digital Childhoods and James Meese is a research fellow in Technology, Communication and Policy lab.

Under a Creative Commons license, this article is re-posted. The original article is worth a read.