The Good Daily

Enough TV Britain!


At this time of year it’s far too easy to come home after work and head straight for the couch for a cosy night in front of the television.  And why wouldn’t you? It can be miserable, dark and freezing out there. TV is so great to unwind with so it’s no wonder that Brits are now averaging over an hour more TV per day than ever before – a staggering 20 hours each per week.

Given the sheer variety and accessibility of TV programmes through mobile streaming and on demand sites like Netflix, it’s easy to understand why we are watching more and more television.  Finding something to watch has become a simple, anywhere, anytime, 2 click procedure.

Could our obsession with TV be having a negative impact on our nation’s wellbeing?

Binge watching, while it might feel good at the time, has been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety through recent studies, meaning it’s probably time to switch off. Previously, our own Cary Cooper has discussed the need for a digital detox.  The benefits to be gained from reducing screen time from our lives could certainly also apply to our TV habits!

At this week’s Good Day At Work Lunch Special with Cary Cooper and partners, we explored the impact of technology  and overabundance of screens in our working and personal lives. The fact that we very rarely get a break from a screen nowadays, compounds the fact that we now use technology for our recreation time as well as our daily work tasks. Think about your day... Wake up – probably to an alarm set on your phone, right? Check the weather and overnight messages or email with breakfast. Read the news and social media feeds during the commute into work. Arrive at work and set up your computer. Clear your email. Make notes and check messages on the phone throughout meetings. Read some blogs or do some online shopping during your lunch break. Work on the computer all afternoon, maybe sit through a presentation. And then it is back to the bus, car or train with your music playlists until you arrive back at home to settle in front of the TV….! All of that everyday mindless screen time really does add up to a lot of digital use.

So, with that in mind, what if we were to swap TV time for some self-care time instead? Imagine the benefit to the nation if we instead utilised our spare time to build up emotional energy through mindfulness techniques.  Rather than distracting ourselves from stressors in our lives with TV marathons or our phones, we could escape into our own mindfulness practice, rejuvenating and reenergising in a positive and screen-free way. 

The benefits of regularly practising mindfulness are well documented and there are loads of apps which can help you get started on your personal wellbeing journey. We’re not saying you shouldn’t have any telly time (after all, we all love the Bake-Off!) but perhaps it’s time to be more aware of how those extra hours in front of the ‘tube’ could be otherwise spent.

How do you think your viewing habits compare to the average Brit? Tweet us at @Gooddayatwork

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MD of Cary Cooper's business psychology firm, Robertson Cooper - for all things wellbeing, engagement and resilience at work.

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Professor Cary Cooper, Director and Founder of Robertson Cooper Ltd, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.

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