It’s that season! You know, the cold one, the rainy one, and the one where it seems like it’s dark all the time. It’s BINGING season! Well, here’s the thing. It’s not super healthy to lay in bed or on the sofa binge-watching for an entire day. Trust me, I’ve been there, so I’m here to share some tips to help keep your binge-watching in check. 

Binge less, less stress

During the start of the pandemic, it was really easy to kick back, relax, and watch six or seven episodes of your favourite shows or movies. I don’t blame you. I did it. Let me be the first to say it isn’t that healthy. It isn’t good for the body, it isn’t good for social communication with friends, and it sure isn’t good for your brain. You just…turn off. 

You get into a place where you’re so comfortable hitting “next episode” that nothing else seems to matter. Now, I’m not saying you need to completely stop enjoying your shows because television and entertainment serve their purpose, but too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing. 

Binge-watching can make it harder to fall asleep (especially when you watch TV before bed), increase your risk of health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, and is associated with depression, social anxiety, and loneliness. We may be telling ourselves that watching shows is a way to relax and lower stress, however too much and the opposite starts happening. Neglecting your physical and mental health leads to increased stress levels.

Are you interested in binge-watching a little bit less? Here are a few tips to ease that tablet or remote out of your hand.

Walk before you watch

Here’s an easy way to do it. Start with a walk; 15-minutes max. It’s nothing. Do you want to know how I know that? It takes nearly 15-minutes to get to the best part of most 30-minute shows, and then it’s almost over. 15 minutes is not a lot of time to sacrifice for your well-being. 

Whether that means mental health, physical health, or relationship health, something as short as 15-minutes can work wonders for the mind, body, and spirit. Plus, you’ll be well on your way towards the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.

Savour your shows

The faster you consume a series, the less you’ll remember and the less you’ll enjoy it. It’s over too fast, and you’re left wanting more. So spread out your favourite shows over a longer period of time.

Earn your show time

What I am trying to say is earn your keeps. Before you throw on a show, get some exercise in or consider taking a break between shows. Go for a walk or jog, even just for ten minutes. Do something every day or a few times a week to earn yourself time with your clicker. One of the things I learned quickly was that fresh air is good for the brain.

Disable the autoplay feature

Most streaming services make it far too easy to watch back-to-back episodes with their auto-play feature. Cutting down on the amount of screen time you have in a week could be as simple as turning off the autoplay feature.

Use commercials to your advantage 

I love watching TV. I love watching sports. It’s what I do for a living, and it’s some of the best reality TV around. Here’s the thing, it’s really easy to watch two full games, and six hours go by just like that. 

What I have learned is intermissions, halftimes, and television commercials are your friend. Don’t fast forward through them but instead, use that 5-10-15 minutes to your advantage. Do a couple of jumping jacks or sit-ups. You can use that time to get off the couch, get your heart rate up or even go check the mail (people still do that, right?). Sounds lame, but it works. 

Go to bed at the same time

Man sleeping watching tv

Don’t underestimate the importance of good sleep hygiene. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day has a whole list of health benefits. Watching too much TV at night can make it harder for your brain to shut off and make it harder to go to sleep. 

So set a reminder to head to bed and when it goes off on your phone, actually listen to it. Try setting it to say something you’ll listen to, like “Put Down the Remote and Go to Bed. No, Really!” 

You can set a repeat calendar event on your phone to go off at the same time every night. Pair it with a soothing alert sound, and after a few days, you’ll likely create a Pavlovian response. 

Try a healthy kind of binge

The word binging sounds like it has a negative connotation. We commonly talk about binge-eating, binge-drinking, and binge-watching. Why can’t we turn the page on it and make binging a good thing?

We can binge-read books, binge-spend time with family, and maybe the most important one, especially for me, binge-take care of your mental health. I just made that up. It’s not really a thing, but it’s something I’ve come up with to try and emphasize the importance of taking care of your mental health.

How much TV is too much?

General guidelines suggest limiting TV time to 2 hours or less per day.

So let’s binge-try and put some energy into your mental health and your physical health. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Are there ways that you’ve reduced your binge-watching? Share them in the comments below.

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