September 11, 2021
Hi Friends! Today’s topic is how our everyday mental health is impacted by what television or movies we choose to consume. To some, it may seem like a no-brainer: watch sad movies and get sad, vise versa. While that can be true, in some cases it is even the opposite. Everything we consume from music to television to social media has an affect on our mental state. It’s not even always obvious and oftentimes subconscious! Let’s take a deep dive into what our entertainment really could be doing to our brains.
As imperative as it is in today’s fast-paced world to stay up-to-date on the news, it is equally as important to be sure you are not only consuming true, unbiased information – but remember to check in on your own mental wellbeing. When our preferred news channel is reporting on several horrifying crimes and daily goings on, it can be overwhelming. You may not even notice according to verywellmind: “It can be damaging to constantly be reading the news because constant exposure to negative information can impact our brain,” says Annie Miller, MSW, LCSW-C, LICSW. When we experience a threat, Miller says our brain activates the fight or flight response, and the systems in our body react accordingly.”
I LOVE my TV. I also love reality TV shows and True Crime as I’m sure a lot of you do too. There is something a bit odd about human’s fascination with the way other people choose to live their lives. You see it all the time: Hoarders, Intervention, 90 Day Fiance, etc. The more drama the better. Something that we don’t often think about, however, is the way we feel after watching these shows. At first, it may feel good to see other people having a “worse” life than you – this has been scientifically proven with even sad, depressing movies. (https://safe365.com/blog/en/why-we-enjoy-sad-movies-according-to-psychology/) One thing that is imperative to pay attention to is how often you consume things like this. Over consumption can lead to feeling lost or hopeless about one’s daily life. Pay attention to how you feel the next time you sit down to watch Love Is Blind on Netflix – you’ll thank me later.
As mentioned above, sad movies can actually make us feel better. They can cause us to look at our life and say “hey, at least I’m not that guy!” But what happens when our lovely anxiety-riddled brains start to think we are that guy? Studies show that while exposure to violent movies does not directly correlate to being a violent person, they can make you feel uncomfortable, paranoid, or even depressed and anxious. (https://www.healthline.com/health/how-do-horror-movies-affect-your-mental-health#positives)
What Can We Do?
Now that we are aware of this phenomenon, what can we do about it? Media is everywhere and there is no avoiding it. Look, I’m not telling you to go off-the-grid. I am still going to watch TV and my favorite horror movies. The main takeaway today is to check in with yourself. If something is too overwhelming, take a break. You can step away from whatever it is that you are watching and regroup, deciding if you want to continue to watch it. Some grounding techniques are as follows:
- Feel your blanket to remind yourself you are at home (or wherever you are)
- Take a few deep breaths, closing your eyes
- STRETCH! This is so important to be sure that you are not tense during time that is supposed to be relaxing for you
- Tell yourself you are safe. This is something that I recommend doing often as it is a HUGE part of Self Love (shameless plug here)
I hope you enjoyed today’s entry! I love learning with all of you, and want to thank you for being here since last December when I started this labor of love that I call Weekly Wellness. I couldn’t be more thankful for all of my subscribers. We are always together in our fight against mental illness.
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