Unplug the Drug
Television is a valuable source of information. We can get the weather forecast, see documentaries about subjects that are important to us, or learn how to cook at any hour of the day or night. While having access all the time may be valuable, like anything else, too much of a good thing is not good.
The current 24-hour news cycle style of TV, creates a culture of fear that creates anxiety about the world in which we live. There is a perception in America that we live in a more dangerous time than ever. The fact is, crime statistics show a decrease in crime since the 80s. Now, however, we hear about crime and other bad news 24 hours a day.
Here are some ways that television is impacting your health:
- The light from the television (and other electronics) impairs your melatonin production, which is a chemical that enables sleep. The interference with melatonin production interrupts or prevents deep, restorative sleep, causing an increase in stress and depressive symptoms. Allow yourself 30 minutes without screen time before bed if you are having difficulty sleeping.
- We watch “TV” anywhere – on our laptop, our phone and on our flat screen. Watching Netflix or other subscription television on your laptop or PC can impact your health just the same as parking in front of the television. Limit your screen time to no more than 2 hours of recreational viewing.
- We have television in our bedrooms. The bedroom is only for two things, neither of which involve electronics. Enough said.
- Most of the time we are sitting when we watch television, another good reason to limit your screen time. Even if you are limiting television, get up and do something during the commercial break instead of fast forwarding through commercials.
- Too much screen time causes stress, anxiety and depression. In addition to the melatonin/stress/depression connection, there is evidence to show that the music and rapid flashing of imagery on action shows, causes a stress response in the body.
While modern access to information can cause us problems, we can leverage its power to our own benefit. Instead of passively watching television, consider using it as a tool for self-improvement. There are apps, television shows, websites and more dedicated to your health – guided imagery, deep breathing, self-hypnosis, and sound and sleep therapy.
Like anything in this world, television is moderation is not a bad thing. As they say in the beer commercials, “Enjoy responsibly”.