Television is a past time many of us enjoy and look forward to as a way to unwind and relax. While TV can provide a source of entertainment and relaxation, it can also contribute to higher levels of anxiety in some people. There are several factors that can lead to the increase in anxiety levels, but television is typically not thought of as the direct cause of these feelings, but rather as a trigger which can set it off.
Turning off the TV will not necessarily stop anxiety from happening. However, being mindful about how much and what kind of programs you watch is incredibly beneficial for your health and overall sense of well-being, naturally leading to decreased feelings of anxiety. As with most things in life, finding balance is key.
What You Watch Matters
The kind of programs you watch have a direct effect on your anxiety levels. Understandably, the nightly news is one of the worst culprits of creating a feeling of anxiety in their audience. With constant stories of violence, fear, and unthinkable tragedy, watching the news on a regular basis can start making you see the world through a biased lens of fear and helplessness, which of course leads to anxiety. It is clearly important to pay attention to the events going on in the world, but moderation is always essential.
TV shows containing graphic violence or disturbing story lines can also be harmful to your state of mind. The images and words soak into your conscious and subconscious mind, again creating a skewed lens at which you look at the world through. Horrible things obviously happen all the time, but watching it sensationalized through the media isn’t doing anybody any good.
Reality TV is quite possibly the worse culprit. According to Dr. Carole Lieberman, a media psychiatrist, these shows cause anxiety because the viewer can identify with people on the tv show and can feel their humiliation, fear and pain. It hits too close to home.
Know Your Limits
The amount of TV you watch can also raise anxiety levels because of long periods of inactivity that inherently goes along with it. Exercise and physical activity gives your mind and body a much needed release of pent up energy. People who do not engage in physical activity show significant increases in anxiety when compared to those who exercise regularly.
Also, getting in the habit of watching TV at bedtime can have detrimental effects on the quality and amount of sleep one gets. A lack in sleep can have serious consequences over time, causing the inability to concentrate, irritability, and increased feelings of anxiety as well. Most experts suggest completely eliminating TV from your bedtime routine as a solution.
It’s easy to get trapped in the routine of TV binge watching sessions, and while it seems like a good idea in the moment, you end up paying for it with your health and well-being in the long run.
Get Up and Get Moving
The benefits of physical activity are nearly endless and there is extensive research which suggests exercise can be extremely helpful in reducing feelings of anxiety. To combat any negative effects of television, engaging in regular physical activities is absolutely crucial.
If you find yourself experiencing increasingly high levels of stress or anxiety, it is important to address what is causing these feelings sooner rather than later. Anxiety can become self perpetuated and create a vicious cycle which only helps to make things worse. And, television is often used as an ineffective and unhealthy coping mechanism.
To be fair, television can sometimes provide a sense of relief from everyday worries when you watch lighthearted or comedic programming. Laughter really is the best medicine sometimes, and watching a show that makes you laugh or feel good at the end of a hard day can be a great way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Overall, television can have both positive and negative effects on your health, particularly on feelings of anxiety. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to what you are watching and how often you watch it. Shows containing violent themes, reality TV shows, and the nightly news are the most common triggers for anxiety. Also, sitting for long periods of time greatly increases your chances of experiencing health problems. Fortunately, exercise can be one of the best ways to counteract these periods of inactivity. While TV can be a great source of entertainment, too much of anything good is a bad thing.