Most of us when we set out to have a relaxing evening plan on watching some kind of media to unwind. Whether it be a movie, binging a TV show or playing a video game Nielsen’s numbers show the average American watches nearly 6 hours of content each day. 6 hours! That’s as much as most of us sleep per day.
Hearing such a high number the natural next question to ask is: is it working? Are we getting the chill we need from our Netflix and chill? Is it possible all this screen time may actually be adding to our stress rather than calming it?
The answer to the question partly depends on what we are watching in this down time. Surprisingly rewatching nostalgic favorites appears to provide the most benefits:
A pair of 2012 studies in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science found that rewatching old favorites can give us a mental boost. When, say, streaming an episode of The Office for the fifth (or 20th) time, you’re among familiar, beloved characters and know what’s going to happen. This reliability, the authors posit, makes your noggin feel safe, which allows it to recharge.
Of course you have new shows that combine nostalgia as an element of their show like Stranger Things or Wandavision. It makes sense why these types of shows become popular during this stressful time. They provide the catharsis we all need in a time like this.
Aside from this nostalgic benefits studies have shown that the brain’s visual processing doesn’t power down in front of the TV. Therefore, watching a program actually stimulates our body and brain rather than providing relaxation.
But what are things we can do to actually relax if TV can’t do it? There are many things but some ideas are:
- Deep breathing
- Calming music
- Read calming/inspirational book
- Write in a journal
- Drink hot comforting liquids
- Swim or take a bath
- Receive your love language- determine it and make sure you get the love you need.
Any of these methods will help you relax far more than watching anything on the television (or heaven forbid a phone!).
What do you do to relax? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section.