It happens so fast you don’t even realize it’s happening.

You get on your phone and begin scrolling to learn of new events unfolding, whether it be news of the pandemic or other bad news. Instantly you become fully immersed and spiral into each bit of information, scrolling post after post until you’ve completed the timeline. Then, when you’re out of fresh content, you hit refresh and the ride starts all over.

This spiral has now been termed “doomscrolling” (or “doomsurfing”). Merriam-Webster defines it as “referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening or depressing.”

It may seem harmless but doomscrolling can affect your physical and mental health. Being exposed to negative content excessively can lead to anxiety, which can include headache, upset stomach, muscle tension or even difficulty sleeping.

Experts say doomscrolling is a modern twist to our primal instincts. Since the day of the caveman, our brain has been programmed to be on the lookout for threats. Metaphorically speaking, COVID-19 and other negative news is like a tiger, something we want to keep our eye on. Because of the pandemic, the brain has switched to fight or flight mode. It’s only natural it would be on the lookout for more threats.

Some tips to prevent doomscrolling is to limit the access you have to your phone. If at all possible, try to not use your phone as an alarm. It’s almost impulsive to check social media after turning off your phone alarm. Try using a traditional alarm clock to start your day.

Also, keep your phone away from your bed. Make checking your phone a decision and not just an impulse. It’s important to stay current in events but try to limit the time you spend scrolling. Schedule a certain time of day to dive into the news and limit the amount of time you spend spiraling, preferably 15-20 minutes.

Doing this could help you tremendously.