The discussion of television and whether or not it’s bad or good for you has been an issue for as long as I can remember. Especially now, when we seem to park ourselves in front of a screen all day, everyday. Whether it be your phone, tablet, computer, laptop, or television. Almost everything we do is mediated in some way by technology. Even though I’m a personal trainer, and I don’t work in an office, I still spend a ton of time on my phone. I don’t think I could live without my phone! I mean, I have, but not intentionally… (I’m the worst when it comes to my phone, either breaking it or losing it… I’m on a hot streak right now so hopefully the cycle has ended for me!) Either way, zoning out on Instagram, or Netflix may not be the best way to relax. Even though binge watching shows on Netflix can feel very relaxing, and it can release endorphins in our brains which make us feel good while we watch these shows, but what happens after we turn off our televisions?
I got the idea for this blog from my Dad. My Dad works a lot and his favorite way to relax is on the couch in front of the television. However, he doesn’t just watch television, sometimes he’s watching Youtube, and the television at the same time! He would spend hours in front of the television watching sports, Netflix, or old movies on TVO, but mostly sports, until he falls asleep which is pretty much every single time. However, a lot of us use Netflix, or some other form of media to watch our favorite series as a way of relaxing after a stressful day, or a long work week, or simply because we’re too hung over to do anything else. I don’t play video games, I’m horrible at them, but some of us choose video games as a way to relax instead of Netflix. Either way, we’re parked on the couch staring at the screen like zombies for a few hours.
Now television can be an effective way to relax because it easily distracts us from our daily worries, and our overworked minds. It doesn’t require any skill or physical labor, no one is bothering you or asking you to do anything. Unless it’s my mom. She gets bored at work I swear and calls the house for no real reason, she calls to ask if we had dinner? And what we’re doing? We’re all adults too, so we can make our own dinner just fine, but I guess that’s what mom’s do? I’m sure she still does this, even though I’m no longer living there to witness it, and every single time my Dad, or anyone who picks up the phone is rushing to get her off the phone so we don’t miss anything that’s going on, on the television. But in any case, television can allow you to get lost in a fictional narrative and forget about your own problems. I think this is why television is such a tempting way to unwind. We can get so caught up in our own lives, that when it all gets too overwhelming we just tend to want to shut down, and television, or social media allows us to do that. It allows us to become very passive. Even though, I don’t think this works real well in resolving any of the issues that are stressing you out, it is a very natural thing to want to do. We just want it to all go away sometimes, and hope that someone comes to save us. But that isn’t reality, and we realize this the second we turn off the television and have to face our lives again.
Television is a momentary escape, which can be a very good thing, but it does not solve the issues in your life that are stressing you out, nor is it very productive or healthy. Sure, there are some benefits to watching television, but in my opinion there are far more productive ways to relieve stress than binge watching Stranger Things (which is a great show by the way). The thing is, even though these shows can be very addictive, and engrossing, which makes them so great to watch, but after three hours or so, you look at the time and think holy shit! Where did all the time go?! Then you may actually feel more stressed out, then when you decided to watch television to relax in the first place! This is because television doesn’t make your financial troubles, boy troubles or girl troubles, or your deadlines go away. They will always be there looming in the background, and even though it’s perfectly healthy to find an escape from your woes from time to time, because television watching is so unproductive, and it can easily eat up so much of your time, it can actually have you feeling worse than when you started. A lot of people find that after watching hours of television, they feel more drained, and more tired, then if they decided to do a hobby, exercise, hang out with friends, or read a book as a form of relaxation.
Lastly, watching television, Instagramming, sending last-minute emails, or using any sort of screen before bed can negatively impact your sleep and your ability to relax properly. If you’re not sleeping properly, you are not as prepared to tackle your daily stresses, which will only stress you out more. The blue light that is emitted from your screens reduce your body’s ability to produce melatonin, which is the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Reducing melatonin in your body makes it harder for you to fall asleep, and stay asleep. In addition, it may seem harmless to Instagram before bed, or to watch a movie to help you fall asleep, but by keeping your mind engaged, technology can trick your brain into thinking that it needs to stay awake. This will reduce the amount of sleep you’re getting, which will make it harder for you to tackle your day. Also, if you see something negative on Instagram, like your ex posting a photo of a new girlfriend before you’ve had the chance to rebound, this can keep you from relaxing and falling asleep. Instead, you may find yourself an hour later creeping every last photo on her personal Instagram account, and maybe even some of her friends… This is not positive, or productive. If anything, it is self-destructive behavior, and it does not help you move on with your life. None of these things listed above will help you be a better person, and it certainly won’t help you with your stress if you’re not allowing yourself a proper night’s sleep. These activities are very distracting, but not necessarily helpful. They do not make you feel better in the long run, because they do not solve your problems. They distract you from your problems, but they don’t necessarily give you energy, or help you learn something.
In the end, television can be a good way to relieve stress, but only if it’s done in moderation. I would personally suggest exercise, yoga, meditation, reading, or a hobby as a better way to relieve stress. Not only are all of these activities productive, but they are also very positive. It is an excellent distraction from your daily life, and it won’t have you feeling like you wasted your time doing nothing! You will most likely feel better, more energized, happier, and better prepared to take on your daily struggles. Also, some of these activities are very social, and don’t require you to be in front of a screen! So please, step away from the screen, meet people, learn new things, and get moving! Even just an hour a day of doing something positive, like reading, or exercise, will still leave plenty of time for you to get in an episode of your favorite show.