Deprivation Binge

Binge watching TV until way too late? Here are some easy tips to quit


Are you using television to escape your life a little too much? We speak to a psychiatrist about when to know you’ve gone overboard.

It’s 1am and you’re hopped up on caffeine with eyes-wide open at the 16-part crime documentary you’ve been binging for hours. Sleep is out of the question, so why even try?

If you find yourself doing this a lot, it may be a sign that other parts of your life deserve some attention (and maybe some therapy).

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Director and Psychiatrist of 2OP Health, Dr. Frank Chow says there are many reasons we binge watch tele. These include:

  • Trying to escape a stressful day
  • A stress level that is already high and keeping us awake
  • Our ‘anxiety’ making it hard to sleep due to racing thoughts

The good news for all the movie buffs out there is that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with watching TV.

“Watching television can be used as a healthy way to ‘switch off.’ When enjoyed in moderation, television can be a safe and effective way to relax and wind down,” explains Dr Chow.

However, moderation is the key word here. If binging TV becomes a regular occurrence it can negatively affect sleeping patterns.

“The sleep deprivation will affect your energy, concentration and affect in the day time and therefore performance in life,” he adds.

We certainly can relate to what that feels like.

So what should we be doing instead of watching TV if we’re having trouble sleeping or had a day full of absolute nightmare fuel?

“Introduce a ‘before sleep’ routine,” says Dr Chow. “Engage in activities that are more calming. Read a book, drink warm milk or decaffeinated tea, ask for a massage from your loved one or listen soft music.”

“Find the activities that work for you to slow your brain down ready for a good night’s sleep. Meditation and breathing exercises are specifically designed techniques to bring the body into a state of deep relaxation. When practiced regularly, these ancient techniques have proved to help people fall asleep in a shorter period of time.”

And what if we have developed an unhealthy reliance on distraction mechanisms such as TV? How can we quit?

“Healthy distraction can be a useful and vigorous coping mechanism. However, if the distraction is causing you more anxiety, try replacing it with a less stressful and less addictive distraction,” suggests Chow.

“Time yourself, don’t let a distraction consume all your time. Instead, introduce a range of healthy distractions and put them on a rotation to avoid falling into a negative routine. For example, daily entries in a journal, watching the sunset, meditation, listening to music that inspires you, consciously drinking more water, or writing a daily list of things you are thankful for, are some ideas of healthy distractions that you can use to revive your spark and drive positive momentum.”

So there you go – time to click off that TV and remember what life is like outside your true crime obsession.

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