There are so many ways to watch movies and TV shows that didn’t exist even 10 years ago. If you really wanted to and if you had nothing better to do, you could watch several seasons of your favorite show in a sitting. No more boring commercials and no more waiting a whole summer to find out if your favorite character will die on the floor of his room in the Great Northern Hotel. The downside is that all that binge watching can leave you feeling depressed. Here’s why.
Sitting around is not good for your mood.
Really, it’s not good for you in any way. Your joints ache, your back hurts, but you don’t notice until you get up several hours later. Sitting in one place, staring at the screen for hours at a time also makes you feel sluggish and depressed. Normally, you would get restless, stand up, and do something, but since you’re watching something fascinating on TV, you don’t notice the restlessness and encroaching malaise until it’s too late.
You usually eat poorly while binge watching.
Most people don’t make a big, healthy salad to binge watch their favorite shows. You more likely rely on snack foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. You may eat without really paying attention. Since snack foods are designed to be addictive, you might eat way too much. Eating like that, especially for a long time, can zap your energy and leave you feeling depressed and lethargic.
Real life is disappointing by comparison.
TV writers know how to hook you. There are plenty of moments of tension and resolution to keep you interested. There are a lot of little payoffs. You get a bit of vicarious dopamine every time the protagonist succeeds. What’s more, TV lives are always more exciting than real lives. Real lives have a lot of chores, boring errands, and waiting around. All the fantastic action of TV lives omits the boring reality. When you turn the TV off, the real world feels mundane. It’s a letdown.
You miss the characters.
Research has shown that when you spend a lot of time watching a show, the characters on the show actually feel like friends. You go through ups and downs with them. You know their fears and their secrets. When the show is over, you actually miss them. When you consider that most people binge watch alone, turning off a show at the end of a season or a series can feel very alienating.
Modern technology is great, but everything is better in moderation. Be mindful of what you watch, and how much. Consider turning off autoplay when you can, so you’re more in control of your viewing habits. That way, you’re less likely to find yourself in an emotional slump after a Netflix binge.