Slogging on weekdays and binge-watching on weekends — sounds familiar? Most of my 2020 (and the two months of 2021) was high on binge-watching and off-late I have been contemplating on its impact. I often tell myself — let me continue watching for I won’t have time later; oh the week was rough and I deserve to pamper myself; this is so engaging, I better watch it now than crave later; (the best one) the pandemic has been hard and I need to be kind to myself so no reason to stop watching. Isn’t it easy to trick your mind into something you want and it’s much easier to come up with reasons to procrastinate tasks that we don’t like much.
I work with a bunch of talented and creative people, so it’s the unsaid rule to be caught up, and recognize and fuel ideas with my team. This is another reason I coax myself to indulge in binge-watching (another lame excuse to justify what the heart wants). On the contrary, I have been suspecting that the outcomes aren't all beneficial. I have noticed that after a marathon session of TV viewing, I end up feeling more drained and dull instead of feeling creative. Moreover, I tend to overeat without fully savoring it when in front of the TV because my attention isn’t where it should be. With this, it takes a while for my brain to send a signal that my tummy is full and hence I end up eating more and wonder why it didn’t taste as expected. Is it just me or it happens to you too?
When finished with watching, I feel all lethargic and end up hitting the sack and wait it doesn’t end there. If the series or movie had violence and horror nuances, it kind of impacts my dreams too at times and I don’t wake up rejuvenated. After waking up, I feel like watching more TV to subdue that feeling of emptiness. Thus, it becomes a vicious cycle of wanting to enjoy, ending up feeling drained and hitting the bed, and then waking up to watch some more for feeling better again.
I have been chewing on this for months and kept shunning it as an outcome of my overthinking. Yesterday, I actually looked it up on Google and the results confirmed my fear. According to Northwestern Medicine, binge-watching releases dopamine — a chemical which makes you feel more excited and happy. With this, you feel a 'high' similar to the one induced by drugs or other substances. This explains the ‘addictive’ behavior when it comes to binge-watching and the struggle to stop, in many instances you don’t even realize how it has adversely taken over your life. It also says that binge-watching may actually lead to anxiety, depression, back problem because of poor posture and a bigger waistline. Phew! In the name of entertainment, we are actually ruining our physical and mental health.
This was a wake-up call for me and I have been introspecting on ways to reduce my television time. It’s been eating into my hobbies and other activities all this while, and now I know the source of lacuna I have been experiencing. To start with, I have limited my binge-watching day to Saturday noons only and strictly no evenings. On weekdays, I have reduced it to a maximum of two episodes of light comedies, i.e. if I have at least a three-hour window after work and between bedtime. I’d say not bad to start with.
Some of the other tips as recommended by Northwestern Medicine include:
Don’t let your entertainment become a cause for your physical and mental health problems. Wake up and hit PAUSE to refresh before it gets too late. That movie or the web series can certainly wait...life won't and there is no rewind button!
Photo by Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash
For additional reading: https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/emotional-health/binge-watching#:~:text=Squeezing%20in%20just%20one%20more,possibly%20due%20to%20the%20isolation).