This week I am in the midst of a personal challenge: no TV for seven days. To be fair, it’s been several years since I’ve subscribed to cable channels, so in reality I don’t actually watch TV as it is (unless it’s Rookie Blue, in which case I’ve made provisions – namely, watching at my sister’s place). That said, somehow, between Netflix, DVDs, and the labyrinth that is youtube, my screen time has increased beyond my own acceptable standards. I was beginning to find that evenings passed too quickly, I felt constantly stressed about getting TV “downtime,” and what’s more, most of the time I couldn’t figure out what exactly I felt like watching, so I’d end up putting something on, all the while thinking that my other choice would probably have been better.
So yes, not good. And not really a good use of time, either. There have been many studies that discuss the negative aspects of TV: TV contributes to a sedentary lifestyle, TV is basically passive intake instead of creative output (anyone remember this Calvin & Hobbes?), TV actually makes you less energized to do other things, and finally, TV isn’t real. It passes time without actually asking you to participate in the real world. Now, I’ll never give up my Jane Austen adaptations (never!) and you’ll still definitely find me watching the latest Bourne movie (I assume the Bourne Supreme Legacy Ultimatum is in the works somewhere – I hope it involves Jeremy Renner in a tshirt), but for the rest of it, I want to be involved in the real world. I don’t want to be someone who talks about having no time because I’ve spent two hours watching TV. I want to feel present and engaged. So – the challenge.
So far, I’m on day three, and it hasn’t been difficult. I had a leisurely dinner with a friend, read part of a novel (a real disappointment – I’m returning it to the library directly), started another novel (high hopes for this one!), played with my cats, written in my journal, made sweet potato and chickpea burgers (courtesy of my favourite food blog, Oh She Glows), and gone for several walks outside.
So, if you are feeling particularly bold, or in need of some time away from what my sister affectionately refers to as the “goggle box,” set your own personal TV-free challenge: one weeknight per week, two, three, all weeknights, the whole week – whatever you think will push you beyond your usual limits and show you the possibilities of TV-free living, even temporarily.
To help you get inspired, here are some things you can do instead of watching ye old boob tube:
- stride about outside, breathing deeply, and enjoying the season around you;
- bake brownies and savour them with a cup of tea and your favourite magazine – try these amazing vegan and gluten-free brownies from The Minimalist Baker;
- rearrange your bedroom or living room and remind yourself of the things in your home that make it feel beautiful and uniquely yours;
- listen to a CD of your favourite music and relax;
- listen to a CD of your favourite music and dance around wildly (blinds open or blinds closed – your option);
- work on some brain puzzles – Sudoku are my favourite!
- play with your cats or walk your dog- they’ll thank you!
- stretch your body out with your favourite yoga poses or simple stretches;
- go to the library and pick up some great new novels;
- clean out your closet and donate clothes you don’t want anymore to charity – you’ll feel so much lighter and more organized;
- test a new supper recipe and savour the results;
- get together with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile or invite a friend over for dinner – enjoy the conversation!
If and when you do bring TV back into your life, pick something that you’ll really enjoy – an old favourite, a movie you’ve been dying to see, a TV show that makes you laugh and laugh – and really savour it. Then, turn if off and get back out there! Life is too short to spend glued to the goggle box.