At the beginning of lockdown 2.0, I watched American Murder: The Family Next Door on Netflix.

The subject matter of the show is grim, examining the disappearance of Shanann Watts and her children, and the terrible events that followed. I had watched similar and worse in the past, priding myself on the fact that I could separate myself from the screen after viewing.

But this time was different. I felt physically sick afterward. My body was tense and my mind kept replaying the scenes. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Wondering if I was alone in the feeling, I typed the show into the Twitter search bar and found a cohort of people who felt similar. They too felt anxious after viewing but couldn’t understand why.

Well, there may be a reason; and it could well be the pandemic.

In recent months, we have watched Emily in Paris and Schitt’s Creek in droves, making clear that we yearn for escapism in this troubled year.

Yet in between the light and fluffy, shows like Unsolved Mysteries and The Sinner have appeared on the most-watched list. The want for thrillers, mystery and hard-hitting drama is still there.

Is this affecting our mental wellbeing? Should we be overhauling our viewing choices in response to our real-life situation?

Psychologist David Morrison thinks so.’At a time like this, we have to be careful about what we consume in terms of TV because we need to factor in that our real life is giving us enough trauma,’ he says.

‘We must remember our bodies are under stress. One of the eligible elements of PTSD criteria is a natural disaster and that is what is happening now. That gives you a scale of the trauma we are going through.’

While we may see TV as an escape from the real world, Morrison says some shows, like The Fall, for example, can be counterproductive.

‘Shows like that are brilliant, but quite heavy,’ he explains. ‘All we are essentially doing by watching them is traumatising ourselves and piling on the endlessness of the pandemic and exasperating our fears.

‘And if you are watching these shows late at night like many of us do, they can affect your sleep, which will impact your everyday life.’

In a time when life is at a standstill, Netflix is one of the few joys left. The thought of leaving it behind is a terrible one.

However, Morrison points out that it is not a case of banning TV entirely, but to choose shows better and be more conscious of how your watching can affect your wellbeing.

‘I think the diet metaphor works quite well here,’ he notes. ‘Before you sit down to watch something, do a self-assessment on how you are feeling. Figure out where your stress levels are at. What is your mood and how will what you are planning to watch impact your mind and body? Think about whether it will make you happy or sad or anxious and go from there.’

Between the news cycle and social media, we are bombarded daily with information that is hard to digest. Trying to understand a pandemic while also trying to unpack a murder mystery on screen is too much for our brains to process.

Morrison says now is the time to seek comfort when it comes to our streaming platforms.

‘A good idea is to go to shows you watched as a kid or the film you have seen a million times before,’ he explains. ‘There is comfort in that because they are familiar.

‘And because you have seen it before and know what happens, it isn’t going to be stressful and you avoid what they call cognitive overload, meaning it isn’t weighing your brain down. Instead of fear and tension, doing this is akin to being wrapped in a blanket.’

And so with this information at hand, make your weekend watch list. These days are heavy, so do whatever you can to make them more light.

Instead of shows about serial killers and disasters, add shows like Sister Sister and one of those ‘so bad, it’s good’ Netflix romantic comedies.

Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

MORE : Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf star in powerful new trailer for Netflix movie Pieces of a Woman

MORE : Why positive news like the Covid-19 vaccine is so important for our mental health in the pandemic

MORE : How to help your mental health and stay positive through lockdown 2.0, according to experts

Source: Read Full Article