Do you realize what you’re watching can impact your mental health?

Have you taken a moment to consider how what you watch and stream might also be impacting your mood?

These days, it seems like both social media and streaming (TV shows and movies especially) are almost essential for an enjoyable day to day life…or maybe that’s just me?! I know that so many of us spend a good amount of down time discovering new shows, or even revisiting old reruns to get a little extra boost of joy and nostalgia. There’s definitely no judgement here!

However, I’ve also been thinking about the impact of what we watch has on our mental health.

Of course, it’s important to curate your social media feeds but how often have you found yourself intentionally curating your Netflix queue? What about Hulu? YouTube? Insert any other streaming services here.

What you watch might be impacting your mental health and mood more than you think!

Sons of Anarchy – Source: IMDB.com

Charlie Hunnam Made Me Sad & Angry…Kind Of

I’ll tell you a personal story to help illustrate the point…. A few years ago friend of mine recommended that I start streaming reruns of Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. I had been hesitant to start it previously because hard-edged stuff isn’t so much my scene (except in the horror/thriller realm), but I was reassured that the story, characters and performances are top notch…and they were! I dived in and got REALLY into it for a couple of weeks.

Then, relatively soon thereafter, I starting to feel more angry, irritable and just more “on edge” than usual. I took some time to self-reflect and couldn’t point to any recent changes in my life. That is, except for delving into Sons of Anarchy.

Now, let me be honest, I don’t think it is a bad show AT ALL. It’s not to blame. I clearly wasn’t being as mindful as I needed to be for myself. I did realize, however, that spending many of my free hours watching people being in chaotic, crisis-ridden, violent situations wasn’t doing me any good. The story was great and so were the stories but it was just too intense for me, especially piled on with the regular emotional toll of whatever else was going on in my life.

The Experiment

Later I conducted an experiment and paused my viewing for a few days and opted for lighter material after work and on weekends. I quickly felt better. So much so, that I didn’t end up going back to finish the rest of the seasons. I don’t particularly regret making that choice.

There’s no one show that’s going to ruin your mental health or “give” you depression. That’s not how that works. And on the other side, if you stop watching gritty shows it’s not going to cure you either, especially if you’re dealing with mental illness.

But, the point is what we consume can absolutely exacerbate certain moods and emotions in our lives. And these days, with all the negativity that we are exposed to on a regular basis, maybe thinking more about WHAT we watch (and how much) and how it impacts our mood is a good thing.

Maybe it’s time to reassess your queue and try something new!

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