Have you ever considered to stop watching TV?
As I walked around my neighborhood a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice how many TV screens were on. It must have been around 7pm and most people were already glued to their screens, probably just getting ready for a long evening of binge watching.
Now, who was I to judge? I had been the one glued to my screen just weeks prior.
See, my husband and I had recently made the ‘life-changing’ decision to cancel our Netflix subscription and sell our TV.
And no, it wasn’t a spur of the moment kind of decision. We had talked about it for months never quite believing we would ever do it.
I mean, who in their right mind would give away their TV in the middle of the Dutch winter?
Well, we did.
And here is why and how we did it:
The Biggest Time Thief
Ever wonder where the time has gone? Are you rushing against the clock, often complaining that you never have time to read or have a hobby?
I have the solution for you. Ditch the TV.
Your TV (or Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu…) is your biggest time drainer. The average American watches 5 hours and 4 minutes of TV per day while the European average is 3.9 hours.
If we extrapolate that number for the US, that’s a total of 35 hours a week and 77 days per year.
Over two months a year spent in front of TV! Imagine the amount of things you can do instead if you stop watching TV.
Studies show that boredom is essential to develop a creative mind.
If a child is left in a room with no toys he will start building a ‘train’ out of cardboard boxes or a ‘castle’ with a chair, placemats and a lamp. My son did that just last week 🙂
And that’s because a bored mind is hungry for stimulation. The hunger stimulates our brain to search, strategize and set the creative wheels in motion.
In other words, the more bored…the more creative.
The problem is that we don’t allow ourselves to be bored anymore.
As a child, I turned to writing, drawing or some sort of DIY activity to relieve my boredom. But as I grew older, I replaced creative endeavors with TV watching.
I replaced creation with consumption. Activity with passivity.
An experiment led by Researcher and Professor Herbert Krugman in the 60’s, shows that when we watch TV, our brain activity switches from beta waves – associated with focus and logical thinking – to alpha waves – associated with wakeful relaxation.
These findings suggest that:
1 – we tune out from our critical thinking abilities (beta waves) leaving us no way to reflect or process what we see intelligently.
2 – the TV puts us into a light hypnotic state which makes our brain suggestible and ready to absorb anything we watch.
Do you ever ‘escape’ your problems by watching TV?
I know I have done it. Countless times.
The truth is that there is nothing that a little bit of entertainment can’t take your mind off, at least for the time that you are busy watching.
We repeatedly turn to our screens whenever something we are not ready to address comes up, be it problems at work, at home, financial or health issues.
We spend so many hours numbing ourselves that we have neither the time nor the mental space to process our feelings / frustrations which in turn prevents us from moving forward.
This is probably one of the main reasons why I chose to stop watching TV.
My health was suffering and it was showing in many ways:
- Feeling lazy: the more I watched, the less I felt like doing anything making me more inactive with each day passing.
- Sleeping worse: there is only so much that the brain can process. Too much TV in the evening made it hard for me to properly ‘switch off’ and meant that I slept worse.
- Sleeping less: if you are addicted to a certain show, it’s hard to stop watching when the next episode is just a click away.
- Eating more: watching TV is linked to mindless eating which makes it hard to control what goes through your mouth and can quickly lead to overeating.
How to kick the addiction
1/ Find your why
Very much like sugar or cocaine, tv is a real addiction. If you want to increase your chances of successfully staying away from it, it’s important to understand the reasons why you want to stop watching TV. Is it to reclaim your time? To be more active and alert? To improve your sleep? All of the above? Find out your why and you will have higher chances at sticking with it when the going gets tough.
2/ Go cold turkey
On the same day that we put our screen away, we cancelled our Netflix subscription and decided to stop watching TV altogether. Out of sight, out of mind. The first few days may feel a little strange and you may (or may not) find yourself walking around the house wondering what to do but you will adjust quickly. If you find this too extreme an approach and you’d rather take it slow, you could start monitoring your usage; slowly decreasing it as time passes until you watch a ‘reasonable’ amount of TV or until you don’t feel the need to even own one anymore – up to you.
3/ Re-invent yourself
This is the reason that makes quitting worth it : so you can re-invent yourself. For me, it means re-structuring my days so that I can live a more mindful, deliberate life. It means having the time and mental space to:
- process and reflect
- figure out where I am and where I want to go
- put my goals into action
- work on myself
- And even to take up some long lost hobbies
So ask yourself (and write down):
- What excites you?
- Do you have big goals for this year?
- What are your favourite hobbies?
With the mental freedom and time you will free up by ditching your screen habit, you will have time to go after all of the above.
Stop watching TV was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Since then, I started running again, I have read countless books, I have taken two Udemy classes and I have had a lot more time to work on my blog, all the while getting deeper and more sleep.
I have one shot at this life and I plan on making it count!
How about you? What would you if you could claim back two whole months per year?