It doesn’t take a scientific study to showcase the effects of video images on our health. However, I’ll share with you a tidbit from a Psychology Today article that I read on the topic of screen time. While there are both positive and negative influences of video interface, I’m going to focus on the ‘negative’ consequences, both from a personal social study, as well as studies done by other professionals.

As most of you have probably read, screen time can lead to similar addictive behaviors as drug addictions. This means that, the same chemicals that lead to that need for ‘just one more’, has the same effects in our brains and nervous system. More screen time leads to more need for screen time.

Additionally, watching events unfold onscreen whether they’re real or dramatized, our brains don’t actually know the difference. What happens, is that the brain processes the information, and it’s stored there for future reference. Simultaneously, because our unconscious mind doesn’t decipher what we’re seeing as real or fictional, your body’s physiology will respond accordingly…this is why we cry at sad scenes, get excited during a car chase, or yell at the villain onscreen.  We actually go to watch something because we desire the emotions that they create in us. Years later, those same movie images can run across your mind’s screen and evoke the same emotions. 

You’ve had all of these experiences, right? I know I have over a very long lifetime of movie and TV watching. I still get chills from remembering scenes from ‘The Exorcist’ and laugh when I think of Will Ferrell in ‘The Land of the Lost’ (yes, now the cat’s out of the bag….I’m a huge Will Ferrell fan). 

The purpose of the information I’m passing along to you is this: 

  • Media will evoke certain responses in you. Are you aware of these responses? And, if you are, are they responses that support your health?
  • If you’re already having stress or anxiety or anger at the world, is what your watching contributing to these states of being? Watching videos may contribute to these feelings and even amplify them. 
  • Media is an incredibly powerful tool, and there’s A LOT of it out there. During your health journey, can you use media to heal rather than creating more stress? 
  • Watching certain programs may be contributing to your health challenges. Start ‘listening’ to your body while you’re watching any kind of media. Do you feel relaxed and joyful? Is this programming contributing to your sense of well-being and upliftment?…..or, do you find yourself tensing up, pulse racing and stomach tight? 

  If you’ve been following along with me to this point, I hope that you’re learning to listen to your own body when it comes to facing any situation. Media is another one of these life-areas to watch out for. 

If you’re having difficulty winding down after a long day, I have some suggestions for you.

  1. Rather than turning on the news or going through your social media news feed, try either reading a book, or finding some programming that inspires and delights you.
  2. Find programming that makes you laugh. Laughter releases endorphins and is a powerful antidote to stress. I LOVE to laugh! As I mentioned above, I love Will Ferrell. If I need a good laugh, I head over to Youtube to find some good clips to get me going. I’m also a HUGE fan of ‘Modern Family’. It’s neurotic, I know, but it’s predictable, raucous, and light. 
  3. Try staying away from those creepy, heavy shows and movies…. especially right before bedYou might enjoy the momentary adrenaline rush, but know it’s just that… adrenaline rush. We only have so much adrenaline in our adrenal bank account. If you’re using it all up on programming, you won’t have much left for life, itself (and, as you know, life can get pretty tricky and we need all the tools in our arsenal that we can get). My rule is, if my pulse rate increases, I stay away from it. 

If you’re at a place in your life that you’re working on staying in a relaxed, neutral, calm place (as much as possible), I’d suggest finding some uplifting documentaries, easy ‘Masterpiece Theater’ programs, and light shows. I’ve loved watching Eckhart Tolle right before bed, because his energy is so calm and his message is all about living in the present, which, I believe is one of the greatest way to self-heal.  There’s SO much out there that’s uplifting, enjoyable, and fun! 

My Challenge to you this week:

Every single time you sit down (or stand) to watch ANYTHING, take a moment to do a self-assessment. This is what to check:
  • Your breathing rate. Is it quickened?
  • Your pulse rate. Is it faster?
  • Stomach. Is it clenched or relaxed?
  • Do an entire body-scan. Check your shoulders, face, legs, and arms. Are they relaxed? Tight? 
If you’re noticing any of the above ‘symptoms’ of stress, here are some suggestions:
  1. Stop what you’re watching immediately. After 5 minutes, re-check the above signs of stress and see if there’s an improvement
  2. If you’re going to continue watching, stay present with yourself. Consciously slow your breath, relax your muscles, and then use the breath to loosen any tight areas that you’re experiencing

I’ve been wanting to share this with you for awhile now. I think that what we watch has an incredible, invisible impact on our mental and emotional states. This is just one more area to be aware of while on your journey to overall health.

I hope this gives you another tool in your tool kit to help move you that much closer to being present with yourself and heal.

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