THE RESULTS OF NO NETFLIX NOVEMBER
In my first post of the year, I briefly spoke about how I’ve given up Netflix and the results I had (along with sharing three things I learned about self-help in 2015). I thought I’d spend this post elaborating on that, providing a more detailed account of the results, and sharing the science behind why I did it.
It all started with an abysmal September and October. I just couldn’t seem to get it together. The alarm would ring and I’d hit snooze- 20 times- before rolling begrudgingly out of bed and stumbling into my bathroom to sleepily get ready for my day. Once ready, I’d find my way to work. There I would work away my day, frustrated and irritated at the littlest things. I’d make my way home, exhausted. I’d walk in the door, sit on the couch and wind down by turning on Netflix. There I would sit until past my bedtime, to which I’d climb into bed and hate the thought of another day. I did this routine and binged watched so many Netflix shows in those two months.
Now, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you could infer that I am a pretty productive person. So on top of feeling exhausted, depressed, unhappy, and shlumpy, I also felt guilt at the end of every night that I wasn’t doing what I should be (working out, eating healthy, reading, etc.). These thoughts didn’t help and I’d just keep turning to Netflix to numb out the feelings I was having. Instead, all I felt was numb and addicted AND guilty AND shitty.
Your brain on drugs Netflix
Then I saw a factual quote on Pinterest that changed things. It read, “Unhappy people watch more TV.” Wait, what?!? I quickly calculated and I was watching 5 hours of TV every weeknight and probably 10 hours on Saturday and Sunday apiece. That’s almost 50 hours of TV a week… more than a work week. So I started to dig.
A University of Maryland study in 2008 found that “People who are happy are more likely to engage in certain types of activities, like socializing with friends, having sex, reading newspapers. When we asked people who say they are unhappy how many hours of TV per day they watch, they were reporting 4, 5 and even 10 hours a day.”
Another article from Daily Mail UK stated that binge watching Netflix for more than 2 hours a day leads to stress and unhappiness. And “Researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Michigan discovered that those who watch more than three-and-a-half hours of television a day are not only at risk of cancer and heart disease – illnesses commonly associated with long term laziness – but also diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, Parkinson’s and liver disease. People who watched between three and four hours of TV a day were 15 percent more likely to die from a common cause of death, compared to those who watched less than one hour a day, who died naturally.”
Lastly, this article from Oprah.com, states that we binge watch TV shows and become addicted because our brains are hardwired to do so. We also feel good because of cliffhangers and we can miss the “friends we hung out with all day” when a show ends (this happens to me every time).
I clearly had an addiction and it wasn’t healthy or doing me a damn bit of good. So, at the end of October, I decided to enact No Netflix November. (The only reason it was called this is because I don’t have normal TV, just a PlayStation and Netflix.)
The first week or two was the most difficult. I would come home and have to find other forms of entertainment for myself. I read four books in that first week. I did watch some movies that I owned and that was an experience. I found myself craving more, about 15 seconds after the movie would finish- where was my automatic playing of the next episode or movie?? I also found that I wasn’t hungry if I wasn’t watching TV. My body wasn’t missing the food I normally ate while watching my shows. I was only “hungry” if I came home and sat down in front of the TV… if I came home and went straight to my bedroom to shower or read… hunger didn’t find me.
November was the best month I’d had in a long time. I engaged more with friends and family. I lost ten pounds because I wasn’t eating just to eat anymore. I read a ton of amazing books that kept me mentally stimulated and even improved my work performance. I slept better and went to bed on time or early. I woke up happier and looking forward to the day. I was happier, more engaged in my life, and a better person. I went to sleep feeling accomplished and healthy.
After November, I had the chance to go back to Netflix. I thought about all of the shows I loved to watch (Frasier, The Office, My Little Pony, Parenthood, Bojack Horseman, and many more) and decided I didn’t need to. I didn’t want to fall back into the trap. I have nothing against Netflix, mind you. I love their original movies, documentaries, and TV shows. I loved the convenience of how I could search for a movie and find it in their library. It just wasn’t a good fit for my addictive personality or the lifestyle I wanted for myself. So I am now just over 2 months free from it. When I want to relax, I watch shows/movies I already own or I do something else- like a workout, read, take a shower, clean, call up a friend and catch up.
Have you given up Netflix or any other platform that allows for binge watching TV shows? Or have you ever been as addicted to TV as I was? What did you end up doing to overcome? If you are in a situation similar to mine above, I hope my story has helped. Until next time, remember, you are capable of happiness abound.
Photo by: Aleskrivec