This is why watching too much TV can affect your mental health

14 December 2018, 17:22 | Updated: 14 December 2018, 17:25

Netflix on TV/Betty Cooper Riverdale.
This is why watching too much TV can affect your mental health. Picture: Netflix/CW
Jazmin Duribe

By Jazmin Duribe

We've all been there.

We've got absolutely lost in our Netflix library. One minute you're telling yourself you'll watch just one episode of Riverdale before bed and the next you've smashed through every season, moved onto Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, rewatched Stranger Things from season one and have demolished a whole bag of crisps. How TF did that happen? It was just all so fast.

Sometimes you do really need those days. Binge watching TV is an act of self-care, don't you know. A Netflix survey found that 73% of participants felt positive feelings after binge-watching. But sometimes too much TV can become a real problem and can even have an affect on your mental health.

It has long been thought that watching TV excessively has been linked to health issues like obesity, but what about if you have depression, or anxiety? Research in the journal Mass Communication and Society suggests that the "perfect" romances on TV shows can undermine real relationships. Meanwhile, people have reported feeling sad or anxious once a TV binge-watching session is over, dubbing it PBWD (post binge-watch depression).


"While you are sitting there watching glamorous people jet around the world and dine at fancy restaurants, you are not doing things to improve your own life," Life Coach Carole Ann Rice told us.

"What you’re actually doing is living vicariously through these people. That hour you spend watching the Kardashians might be entertaining, but you're not exercising change for your own life. Apart from the news, TV is not real and is designed to manipulate the audiences overall. Much like social media, TV often gives a false impression of real life and you waste time and your life tuning in to it."

Don't panic! It's not all bad, though. TV can actually be helpful too.

Carole added: "This is possible, but only if you are genuinely learning something from what you’re watching which will improve your life. If you're going to watch TV, try to invest your time in substantial programmes which cover health, diet and lifestyle as well as healthy cookery programmes – these are the TV shows which will actually help you develop your personal life."


And if you think TV is having a bad effect on you, there are things you can do to help.

"A great tip is to make white space in your diary to help your mind feel clearer," Carole continued. "Say 'no' more often and don't over commit, as this will help you feel less overwhelmed. Get outside for a walk and soak up some natural scenery and take in some fresh air, deciding to dump your worries for a day and completely clearing your mind.

"Make sure you exercise, as this releases endorphins and also helps us relieve stress! Also, work on getting some perspective - will the worst really happen? Talk out all your worries with a good friend, as this may help you gain a new perspective on your concerns.

"Journal dump all of your thoughts to get them off your chest, and train your mind into remembering that in two weeks from now you won’t remember what you're stressing about today."