5 Reasons You Should Take a Break from Watching TV

5 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Watching TV (click through for more!)    About a month ago, my husband Todd and I took a week-long break from TV. I just felt overall like we were watching too much of it and relying on it to be our sole source of entertainment. It seemed like a good time to cut the cord for a bit. A week without TV may not sound like that big of a deal to some, but I have never taken a purposeful break from that flickering light of the television ever before in my life (and I just really love TV in general), so it felt like a very big deal to me. While there were certainly ups and downs to the whole experience, I would totally recommend that you give it a try if you haven’t lately and here’s why:

You just might be addicted (and not even know it): I think the first day was a bit of a sobering experience for me to realize how much I really missed and felt like I needed television. I used to keep the TV on low in the background all day when I lived alone in an apartment because I liked the comfort of hearing other voices, and since my spouse travels a lot for work, I still keep up that habit most days. Having just silence was a bit unnerving to say the least and I really didn’t like it at first. However, by the end of the week, I could appreciate the other sounds that would normally be drowned out by the noise of a show – the birds singing in the yard, kids playing down the street, crickets chirping at night. I would have missed all those other great sounds if the TV was on just to fill the dead space. I also realized how much I rely on it at night and as a relaxation ritual. I came to realize at the end of the week that I think some TV is healthy for me as a way to space out and not have to do anything creative or cerebral for a while. Even too much of a good thing like creative projects or brain busting books or projects can wear you out after a while if you don’t have some relatively mindless downtime. So, some TV can be great for that downtime, but I realized it had been my only option to unwind and relax.

5 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Watching TV (click through for more!) You’ll engage with others more: This was kind of a big one for me. I absolutely love to watch TV while I eat for some reason. So once it wasn’t an option for me anymore, I would sit at the table with Todd for meals instead. Not watching TV while I ate made me slow down a bit and gave me another chance to interact with him instead. Since we especially love to catch up on shows at nighttime, we decided to have a few game nights instead and had a lot of fun playing card games and eating snacks with each other (or some invited friends). Even if you live alone, you can use the extra time to make the coffee date with a pal you’ve been putting off or schedule a longer-than-usual FaceTime call with your mom. Connect a bit more!

5 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Watching TV (click through for more!)  You’ll rekindle your forgotten hobbies (and may learn something new):
Cutting back on TV is a great way to finally get back into whatever hobby you’ve been pushing aside because you just didn’t feel you had the time or energy to spend on it. I spent more time doing things I really wanted to do and exercised more too! Hey, when you take away TV and you’re really bored, suddenly exercising sounds more fun than usual! Organize a dodgeball game or get back into sewing – this is the time to get back into it!

You’ll find out what amount and kind of TV is really worth it:
Like I said, I realized that some TV is helpful for me to unwind a bit from the day, but you’ll notice that you miss certain things a lot more than others and it may not all be necessary. If you have more than one TV platform (like cable and Netflix or Netflix and Hulu), you may realize that you were only missing one of those platforms and the other may not be necessary. I realized that I don’t really enjoy a lot of the “intense and constant screaming” reality TV shows as much as I thought I did. Not having those whiny voices floating through the house felt more peaceful, and I didn’t miss them. TV can also feature shows that have some amazing writers and actors, so it’s certainly not all bad and you’ll know which shows are really the most appealing to you and which have been merely filling up your time.

5 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Watching TV (click through for more!)You may even get more sleep:
This was a perk that I didn’t really expect! My musician husband usually goes to bed between 2-3am when he’s home (he’s always been like that, but it’s even worse when they are touring a lot). The first night of “no TV” he went to bed at 11pm! It was partially because he was going through TV withdrawal and felt so bored, but I think it was also because a lot of studies say you shouldn’t stare at screens a few hours before going to bed because it messes with your sleep quality. Most nights we went to bed earlier than usual because we felt tired earlier in the night. There’s been so many nights where I probably am tired and should go to bed, but you keep doing that “just one more episode” thing, and so you don’t get as much sleep as you should. Try laying in bed with a book or listening to music and see which other things help prepare your brain for sleep.

When the dreaded week of “no TV” was over, I didn’t even turn it back on until late at night the first day it was allowed again. I was enjoying the quiet (something I had been a bit afraid of before) and didn’t want to mess up the peaceful zone I had created. Of course at some point I remembered that I had missed a few episodes of The Mindy Project and proceeded to turn it back on, but it felt more like I was in control of what and how much I wanted to watch instead of the other way around. Have you ever taken a break from TV? Did you feel like it was helpful for you in some way? xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman and Todd Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

  • I rarely watch TV anymore, and two things really helped make that transition easy for me –
    1 – Cutting the cable cord and only relying on Netflix or over the air TV
    2 – Having a child 😉

    With a preschooler in tow, the only TV I get to watch while she’s awake is Doc McStuffins, and in the few hours I get to myself when she’s in bed before I pass out at night, the decision comes down to, “Do I want to watch TV, or clean the house, or work on a project…?” TV rarely wins.

    It’s made my TV watching more intentional. I have a few shows that I watch through Netflix and over the air, but if I’m not watching those, I don’t rely on it for entertainment and do other things.

    It’s amazing how much you realize you used to watch it when you all of a sudden don’t have 100 channels with nothing on them!

  • What a great idea, I am definitely going to try this with my bf one week this summer. More summer night strolls and card games please ; )

  • Oh my gosh, I’m going through this right now with my addiction to the tumblr app on my phone. I was pretty much on it all the time, every free moment I was scrolling away, using it mostly to keep up with my fave fandom, but also as a convenient distraction from everything and anything. It took, like, a stupid amount of time for me to realize participating in the forum was actually making me feel more isolated AND I was forgoing all sorts of hobbies and interactions just to look at my phone. So silly.

    Now, whenever I feel the urge to open the app, I journal on my phone instead. So far, I’ve been tumblr free for 3 weeks!

  • Oi, my Netflix binging has been a little out of control lately. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been thinking of going on a tv fast just to get it out of my system!

  • My husband and I haven’t had TV since 1997! We watch movies via Netflix streaming or Amazon prime, but no cable, no antennae, no commercials! When we do want to watch the U.S. Open or the World Series or a political debate, we find a friend or go to a bar to be social about our TV watching. It’s worked really well for us. And, more importantly, we do not feel like we’re missing out on anything. Whatever we “need” to watch, we find other ways.

  • Believe it or not but I was talking to my husband about no technology night once a week… we grew up in India where there was not that much technology exposure.

    and now we are so consumed with it.. great inspirational post

  • I quit watching TV a couple of years ago because I was having nightmares. My husband liked all the police procedurals, mostly U.S. series dubbed in French. I found them just too sick. And they played to my worst fears as a mother. So I dropped out. I usually worked instead or read for pleasure. I made my husband get headphones so I wouldn’t have to hear “have pity” being cried by some victim on the screen. I slept SO MUCH BETTER immediately. And I’m also happy to be so much more productive. I don’t miss TV at all. Once in a while I’ll get sucked into a movie on TV, but that’s rare.

  • I’ve taken unintentional breaks from TV when my schedule got hectic and I didn’t have time for it and I noticed that I didn’t even miss many of shows that I watched all the time and the ones that I did miss, I didn’t mind watching them later on Hulu on my time, versus rushing to the couch to watch them live. Lots of times, I’ve also had shows on for background noise and I want to make it a point to enjoy the silence more and do more reading. I also find it easier to relax to some nice music instead of the TV.

    Keshia
    http://www.queenlifeblog.com

  • I have a addiction to the computer. I really need to chill. Thanks for the advice ^_^

    Laila from Townhouse Palette

  • I’ve done pretty much the same thing for the past 4 years. Don’t even own a TV. I get far more done in general, and I’m getting most of those projects on my ‘to do’ list completed. When I DO watch anything, Amazon Prime is loaded with good choices.

  • Really enjoyed reading this! I can completely relate to not really giving myself any mindless downtime except for TV – I bet I’d finish my book (which I’ve been reading on and off for a year) if I actually gave it up!

    ISOSCELLA | http://isoscella.blogspot.co.uk

  • I had an assignment in the 6th grade to not watch TV for a week. Even then it was life changing, and I ended up not watching TV until I was in college. I didn’t own a TV until moving in with my husband. I feel like it takes up too much of our life sometimes, so it’s good to schedule some screen free time now and then.

  • I found this post very refreshing.
    Inspired to have a game night 🙂

    Thanks!

  • Good idea. We don’t own a tv and everyone thinks we are crazy weird. But I just hate hate hate background noise and I hate commercials. My biggest pet peeve is unnecessary noise and I really hate going to people’s houses when they have the tv on in the background while we’re trying to chit chat. Also it saves us a ton of money not to have it. We have Netflix if we ever want to watch a movie in bed, but I do not regret not having a tv and hope to not get one ever (my husband is dying to get one though lol)

  • When I was watching Greys Anatomy on Netflix last year, I felt like it was distracting me from accomplishing anything on the weekends, so I made a deal with myself. I could only watch Greys if I was on the treadmill. I felt way more productive and it stopped me from wasting my weekends.

  • So interesting how these things seem to be on peoples’ minds these days….I thing TV, facebook, instagram, pintrest, anything like that can become a complete addiction before we know it. Then it is almost impossible to break the habit!

    Since my kids are home for the summer, I really want to encourage them to watch less TV and work on “honing” a skill or hobby that has kind of hit the back-burner.

  • Totally understand where you are coming from!! Having kiddos has made me sooo much more intentional about what I am watching. When they go to bed it’s so much more relaxing to work on a craft or something like that. Don’t get me wrong I can binge on Gilmore Girls like no other but I’d much rather feel like I am getting something acomplished on the majority of my nights.

  • I totally agree that being mindful of how much screen time we are all putting in is super important.

    Laura, can you please tell us what nail polish you’re wearing? It looks lovely!

  • Thanks for sharing! When we moved last fall we decided to cut the cord on cable since we had Netflix and we do not miss it one bit! We have two toddlers and just want to promote healthier habits for screen time since they’ll have so much access to it as they get older. When we moved we also set up our office in the basement instead of beside our bedroom and that has really helped us as well!

  • Honestly, with summer here and no school for a few weeks, our TV has been on more often that I’d like to admit.. I’ve been itching to do this and you know what? It’s time. You’re so inspiring! thank you xx

  • Hi Laura! Thank you for the inspiration (I’ve been meaning to stop watching tv)!!! On a side note, where can I get that Cabazon dino pic and frame it?!! My parents used to take me there when I was a kid and this made me so nostalgic! I’ve never seen such a great pic of Mr. Dino…do tell!

  • Great idea! It can be so easy to zone out on a daily basis that we don’t always think about pulling out a book or a board game–now I know what we’re doing in our house next week!

  • What a great post! Funnily, our TV broke when we were moving about two months ago and it has been so refreshing. We took more time than usual to cook, read a lot and had a more intensive time overall. Lately, I have talked to a lot of people who took a break from watching TV or quit altogether and none of them have regretted it. (:

  • This has really made me want to go on a TV detox – something I’ve never done before! I’ve found that recently I’ve been getting into the habit of having the TV on just for background noise whilst I potter around sorting out other bits and pieces. Me and my boyfriend moved house on Sunday however, and have started limiting ourselves to only watching TV at bedtime, and it’s really made a world of difference in how much time I seem to have in the day!

    Steph – http://www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

  • Wow these are so true. My hubby and I have 2 small toddlers so we basically drop like the dead after 8pm in front of the tv. But we talk about needing to engage each other more like you say.

  • Great article! Also… Please tell me where those cat PJs are from !

  • This is such an inspiring post. Like so many people now my boyfriend and I don’t have “tv” but we still have Netflix, HBO Go, etc etc and definitely spend a lot of time in front of the tube even if we are watching something “educational” like documentaries. Especially now that it’s lighter outside at night, I’ve been thinking we should do something like go for a walk, or go for a dinner picnic instead of plopping down in front of the tv. I’m definitely going to follow your lead and take a week off. Hoping it leads to more connection and more calm! *fingers crossed*

  • While I am totally a Netflix junkie, I definitely agree that I need to spend more time away from the screen because I spent my entire day behind a laptop. Inspired now to have a girl’s night game night!

    Arin || http://www.heartofchic.com

  • I watch tv for just an hour a night. i get so much more done and feel so much more relaxed every night now when i do other things <3

  • I cut my cable contract months ago, I realized I never watch television, only tv shows I can get on Netflix. So I made the switch from cable to Netflix. I love TV shows but I don’t like using the TV as background noise, it does nothing for my life… so I listen to podcasts or music, instead. Podcasts are awesome because you learn and laugh; and music, well, music is good for the soul, so there’s that too.

    Congrats, Laura, though I’m late commenting this entry, because life really is better with less television.

  • My sister and I bought a new home and decided that we wanted the upstairs living room to be a TV free zone. We put the TV downstairs and now we never watch it except for an occasional movie on the weekends. We do watch an occasional show on my iPad, but not often. We have so much more time on our hands and really don’t miss it. I took a Facebook fast for a month as well and really loved the break. I think it’s good to refocus sometimes to help you see what you do and don’t need!

  • something that’s related to one of your first discoveries: I bike to work everyday (that’s very normal here in Belgium) and I see so many people constantly listening to music. And I get that, sometimes I really like listening to music as well. But on most days I just listen to the world around me and that’s just such a nice experience. There are always a ton of birds singing and stuff, it’s really nice to hear and it helps you stay more in the moment.
    Maybe I’ll give up on tv for a week as well, see how I like that 🙂

  • Could not agree more. I love holidays when we go on camping trips and there is nog TV. I don’s watch a lot of tv but my husband likes to put the tv on at night and if there is nothing special he want to watch he will just zapp. I usually wath a couple of shows a week, but i never just watch TV always something intentional

  • We went from having cable to streaming only (netflix, hulu+, amazon prime). What we discovered was when we have to make an actual CHOICE on what to watch, and not just mindlessly watch whatever is on, it’s MUCH harder to commit to something to watch! And we feel much invested in what we DO watch! Of course, I’ve been a stay at home mom since our son was born. At the end of the day, I mostly just want silence. And after a few years off, it’s been very very hard to actually get invested in any sort of tv again.

  • I also hate being alone with just quiet – I find audiobooks to be a great fix for this! I have an app that allows me to check out audiobooks from my library too, so there is no cost involved.

  • To me, the extra sleep is the biggest benefit out of all of them. I think we all know what it’s like. You’re watching a show, and as it ends, you look at the clock.

    Decision time–do you watch one more program? “I still have time,” you may think. You may mentally tally the hours of sleep you can theoretically achieve. This is a trick! If you stay up to watch more TV, you only start your nighttime routine afterwards. That takes time, plus adjusting to having the screen off takes time…it really can get you hours of extra sleep just to call it a night by, say, 8 PM.

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