The Happee Times
INVEST IN YOUR HAPPINESS
What is binge-watching?
Are you a Binge Watcher?
Are you watching 3-4 or more 30-minute-long episodes of a Tv/ web series in one sitting?
Do you feel tired and drained out after watching a show?
Do your eyes hurt or itch after a watch session?
Are you having more headaches than usual?
Is your sleep time shrinking as a result of those ‘few more episodes’?
Are you less active than usual?
Have you been prioritizing watching ‘one more episode’ over other important activities?
If your response to most of these questions is YES, then we have some news for you
You have been tested positive for binge-watching!!!
What happens to your brain when you binge-watch?
- by Arushi Suri
Watching more than 3 episodes in one sitting? Are you a binge-watcher? When we binge-watch, our body is supplied with a continuous stream of dopamine (the happy hormone) and we experience a ‘happy high’. This ‘feel-good’ hormone promotes positive feelings like happiness and pleasure. But it is important to understand that this pleasure gives us short-term gratification. Long-term gratification will be experienced when we will cross all those pending tasks on our to-do list.
After a binge-watching session, we feel exhausted, sleep-deprived, and eventually end up in a guilt spiral of not being productive enough.
Then, why do we tend to repeat this action over and over again? When we stop watching, the dopamine supply, our brain craves for, is interrupted. Hence, we are compelled to continue watching.
Do not get trapped in this vicious cycle. Take control!
I’ve been watching for hours, should I watch another episode? Whether to click ‘next episode’ or not is a dilemma that goes on deep within your brain as well. As soon as you start watching an episode, the pleasure centers of your brain are activated, there is a continuous supply of dopamine to your brain. Your brain is having the time of its life. “Life’s gooood” your brain says.
Dopamine is a feel-good hormone that is produced when you engage in any activity you enjoy. It flows through your body and promotes positive feelings like pleasure and happiness.
The episode is moving towards the end and the next episode tab is right in front of you. Whether to click it or not?
“It’s so much fun, but I’m going to feel guilty later”
Your dopamine flow is on hold.
Should I stop? You ask your brain “no, but this feels great” your dopamine addict brain says. And there you go once again. What you crave is not another episode, it is that pleasure the dopamine flow brings you. Over time, you start losing control and start giving in easily. Let’s take control and be in charge of our behavior.
Binge-watching not only impacts our work, but our social life, and our physical and mental health as well. It is a fact that when a web series has occupied your brain you are most likely to avoid doing other activities to continue your streaming. The most common things that are affected are your-
1) Social life: Over time you think it’s better to just watch the next episode than hang out with your friends.
2) Physical health: Binge-watch requires you to stay glued to your couch. Sitting down for a longer period increases your risk of chronic health problems, as well as bad posture, obesity, and a slower metabolism.
3) Mental health: Binge watchers face a constant feeling of denial and loneliness after finishing the last season of their favorite web series. These feelings after a period of time lead to some serious mental side effects like anxiety and depression.
Pop culture has glamorized the act of “binge-watching”. If your friend is addicted to a certain habit, you would tell them to stop or seek help, right? But why isn’t that the case with Netflix? We often find ourselves watching too many episodes in one sitting, yet we let it slide and don’t do much about it, knowing well that there are still a lot of things left on our to-do list.
“Next episode” – To Click or Not to Click?
Watching Netflix (OTT) should be a source of entertainment or a way to relax and unwind, rather than being a hindrance to the kind of life that we want. Before clicking on the ‘next episode’ tab, here’s what you could do:
Inculcate a reward system and treat yourself to your favourite show/movie.
This would save you from the productivity guilt that a lot of people experience after a binge.
Know when to stop. The science behind it? Tiredness. Learn to say “the binge ends here”.
Apart from physiological effects, binge-watching could have long-term consequences for your personal goals and life. As we mentioned before, the reason why you feel good while watching your favorite show is because of the release of dopamine, which activates the pleasure centers of your brain. However, by experiencing post-binge blues at some point in time, you must have gotten to know by now that this happiness is short-lived. Ask yourself if you would like to trade this short-term gratification for a more sustainable way of being happy like spending time with your loved ones, working on your goals, and taking care of yourself.
Check your screen time and ask yourself, “Can I get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise before I watch the next episode?”.
Now that many of us are working from home, we find ourselves slipping into a sedentary lifestyle. Try to take care of your well-being by getting some exercise before logging in to watch your favourite show.
Log out of Netflix (or OTT). Sometimes the sheer laziness of typing your password again might make you think twice before logging in again.
Sometimes we end up watching Netflix just because it is “there”. By having to log in again the next time, you might be just a little more mindful of your habit of a binge-watch. Remember that OTT platforms are designed in a way that would lure you into watching more content. The “next episode” button is a trap that you should choose not to fall into.
"I see a lot of my clients who struggle with anxiety or depression resort to binge-watching as a coping mechanism. Binge-watching is one of the most unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with your negative thoughts and emotions. Purge watching usually numbs your mind, makes you dull, and feeds on your negative thoughts. I recommend my clients to tap on a healthy coping mechanism like journaling, exercising, spending quality time with their family, indulging in a new hobby, or simply spending time with nature. "