The Surprising Benefits of Binge-Watching Your Show
(AscendHealthy.com) – Who doesn’t enjoy a good Netflix binge every once in a while? Depending on the person and the age group, “Netflix and chill” may have multiple implications.
Still, our motivations are the same: We’re all just looking for a way to unwind from our busy lives. Binge-watching isn’t always hazard-free, but the benefits could far outweigh the risks. We have the breakdown.
Binge-Watching and the Brain
According to a recent NBC news report, most Netflix users watch between 2-6 episodes per sitting, but these numbers can vary depending on each individual and the show. For example, a good number of subscribers watched the entire nine-episode season of “Stranger Things 2” in one fell swoop.
Netflix calls binge-watching the “new normal,” although not everyone watches it for the same reasons. Among those who enjoy the thrill of the binge, the risks and benefits may both abound. Let’s take a closer look.
One of the aspects that makes binge-watching so enjoyable is also what can make it potentially dangerous. Northwestern Medicine explains the biggest threats:
- It can be addictive. Binge-watching affects the brain in ways similar to drug use. The experience causes our brains to release dopamine, one of the “feel-good” chemicals that contribute to drug highs. Some people may feel compelled to prolong their binges for continued dopamine spikes.
- It might make us shut other people out. Some people isolate themselves when they binge-watch, which could lead to adverse social and psychological effects.
- It can interfere with our sleep. The excitement that comes with watching a favorite show may leave some viewers unable to shut their brains down for sleep, resulting in insomnia. Sleep loss can lead to fatigue and reduced productivity.
People who spend too much time binge-watching shows may also suffer the effects of becoming more sedentary. Watch out for weight gain, reduced lung capacity, back problems, and increased anxiety and depression. It’s also important to note that watching too much TV has been linked to fatal blood clots.
When used responsibly, binge-watching may be helpful in some areas. According to research compiled by the University of California, Santa Barbara, moderate TV binges can give us the little boosts we need to get through our days. There’s something to be said about the power of escapism; it can be a healthy way to let go of stressors and refuel ourselves. Binge-watching with other people can also be powerful, opening the doors for shared bonds through emotional journeys.
Lowering the Risks
Keep binge-watching safe by limiting sittings to two or three episodes, staying active with other interests, and keeping the lights on to avoid losing track of time. Go for a walk in between episodes to avoid sitting for prolonged periods.
To prevent social isolation, try to keep other people involved as often as possible. Invite friends within your social bubble over to watch in small groups and discuss important plot points afterward. If binge-watching starts to cut into social or professional time, it might be time to take a break.
“Netflix and Chill” Safely
“Netflix and chill” doesn’t always mean sedentary business. For many people, the sofa has replaced the drive-in movie theater, and the term has become slang for hooking up. Be prepared with the appropriate protection, just in case. Also, be sure to keep some water on hand to keep hydrated for when things get… ahem… physical. It’s better than being sedentary, right?
We all need to unwind sometimes. Go ahead, pick out a new series to binge, grab a few friends (or someone really close), and have some fun. As long as it stays within moderation, it might just be healthy for you.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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