Do you need to go to rehab for binge-watching?

You’ll regret it in the morning when you can’t keep your eyes open, but you press play anyway. “Just one more episode,” you tell yourself.

A recent Netflix survey revealed that 61% of users regularly watch two to six episodes in just one sitting. Does this sound familiar?

After a long day, curled up in bed with snacks, watching endless episodes of your favourite series may sound appealing, but it may not be so kind to your health. The high you get from watching your favourite shows on a loop makes you feel good but it may lead to addiction.

Slave to the screen

Hilarie Cash, a mental health counsellor who specialises in screen and internet addiction in America, explains that overstimulation plays a big role in why we binge-watch. She shared that most binge-watchers who become addicted initially start as a means of escapism.

Indulging in binge-watching makes you so used to the easy distraction and the high you get, that eventually a few episodes isn’t enough. You soon find that you’re watching more episodes in one sitting to get your fix.

Binge-watching happens easily for other reasons too:

  • It helps you escape your responsibilities and worries for a while.
  • It relaxes you.
  • It adds a sense of excitement to your day (your favourite show becomes something to look forward to).
  • Today, compelling TV shows are at our fingertips on TV or online.

What’s the harm?

A recent study found that adults who watch more than three hours of TV a day double their risk of premature death! Sitting for long stretches is more likely to increase the risk of health issues like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

A University of Michigan study found that TV shows with captivating plots excite the brain. This makes it difficult for your mind to settle before bed and may cause sleep deprivation.

Too much TV time is also linked to the risk of becoming overweight because for most, binge-watching and snacking go hand-in-hand. Sitting for hours while snacking on junk food is not the way to health!

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Binge-watching also puts your social life at risk. A study done by Marketcast, an entertainment company, found that 56% of binge-watchers prefer to watch alone and that 98% watch at home. This leaves little time for friends or making new connections.

Pace yourself

If you save a few slices of pizza, you’ll get to enjoy it tomorrow. The same goes for your favourite TV show. Don’t watch an entire season in one go, treat yourself to an episode a day. A study done by the Journal of Consumer Research found that the faster you watch your favourite show, the less enjoyment you’ll get out of watching it. A little distance will make your heart grow fonder and help prevent an addiction.

Avoid purge-watching

Be honest. Are you binge-watching because you can’t get enough or just to finish what you started? Usually, finishing tasks is a good thing, but when it comes to watching TV and specifically shows you don’t like, it can be harmful. Only watch shows you enjoy, so you’re less likely to end up in a cycle of continuous binge-watching. (You’re also more likely to run out of episodes in no time.)

Earn it

Going cold turkey with binge-watching isn’t easy, especially when Netflix releases an entire season of your favourite show. Use a reward system to make watching your favourite show productive. For example, cleaning your room could earn you some screen time, as well as finishing an assignment or hanging out with your friends.

Time yourself

Don’t know when to stop watching? Let your alarm tell you. A great way to regulate how much you’re watching is to set an alarm for when you’ve started watching and when you should stop. Listen to the alarm! You can watch again tomorrow.

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