How to Binge-Watch with Minimal Impacts on Mental Health

One of the first things humans are taught in life is balance – everything ought to be done in moderation. Despite this, binge consumption (of any kind) is one of the biggest combined guilty pleasures of our kind. Given the consumption-based and competitive nature of our capitalist society, it is only understandable that binge-watching has become part of our culture. 

Even the word itself suggests that there is no room for moderation. Simply put, binge-watching refers to obsessive consumption of media or the practice of watching multiple pieces of media in rapid succession. With the advent of streaming services, binge-watching has become a very accessible hobby that only requires a credit card and any of the Spectrum Internet offers. If left unchecked, it is the kind of behavior that can prove detrimental to an individual’s physical and mental well-being.  

Can Binge-Watching be Moderate? 

The question that arises is a simple one – is there any such thing as ethical binge-watching? In theory, this can be described as a moderate approach to the practice. However, the first thing to be addressed in this is the inherent paradox that the phrase embodies – if binge-watching is moderate, is it really binge-watching?  

The plain and simple answer is – no. Moderation is a principle that brings the very nature of binge-watching into jeopardy because it brings balance to what is excessive. However, this does not mean that there is no way to curb or break the habit. There are ways to bring moderation into your binge-watching practices, by setting limitations and rules for yourself. Contrary to how boring that sounds, these tips can prove very effective and will instantly make you feel better. 

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The Ethics of Binge-Watching – How Can I Do it Healthily? 

Here are a few measures you can take to curtail your binge-watching habits. 

An Episode Cap 
This may sound boring and like a buzz kill, but it is a very necessary step to take to prevent binge-watching. By placing an episode cap on oneself, you can stop yourself from falling into the loop of watching episode upon episode till you pass out. A self-imposed cap would make you feel in control of your actions, a healthy contrast from being involuntarily glued to the TV screen.  

Avoid Snacking 

Binge-watching and binge-eating often go hand in hand, because people usually like to snack while watching shows and movies. To make your binge-eating experience healthier, avoid munching on junk food simultaneously, and restrict yourself to only watching. Not only does this allow you to focus better on the content, but also keeps you healthy and fit. 

Sleep on Time 

Most people use Netflix, YouTube, or some other streaming service to fall asleep, only to fall prey to binge-watching. Late at night, right before sleeping is arguably the unhealthiest time to watch television. A half an hour screen detox is recommended by health professionals before and after sleeping. It is not wise to lose sleep over movies and shows because it impacts your energy level during the day and heightens feelings of unproductivity and demotivation. 

Move Around 

The most obvious issue associated with binge-watching is laziness and lack of mobility. Why not try to break this cycle by developing a habit of moving around after each episode ends? This can be anything as minute as going to get yourself water or taking a walk around your room. The idea is to keep your body and mind alert and used to movement. 

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How Does it Impact Mental Health?

Binge-watching is one of the most dangerous practices of our times as it acts as a gateway to many other issues, such as unproductivity, depression, obesity, etc. Many of these problems are even interlinked; one is caused by the other. Some of the main mental health factors are: 

Cognitive Decline: Binge-watching dulls our brain performance and increases brain fog, cognitive dissonance, and inefficiency.  

Behavioral Addictions: One addiction leads to another, and binge-watching normalizes/makes way for other far more damaging addictions such as drug or alcohol abuse, nymphomania, and binge-eating.  

Social Isolation: According to Baudrillard, the “hyperreality” of today glues people’s eyeballs to their screens. Binge-watching reduces social interaction and outdoor exposure. Even communal binge-watching limits human interaction to just being in each other’s presence. This makes people anti-social, awkward, and even unhappy. 

Sleep Problems and Fatigue: Unless your body is getting a timely six-to-eight-hour sleep cycle, it can never function properly. This is why staying up to binge-watch shows can prove detrimental to mental and physical health.