Most noteworthy, a study, involving 240 young adults, reported that watching TV lowered cortisol levels. In fact, cortisol is a stress hormone that causes high blood pressure, increases cholesterol levels, weight gain, a weakened immune system, and depression. So, by lowering cortisol levels, watching TV reduced stress in the young adults.
EffeCts on the Brain
Meanwhile, Electroencephalogram (EEG) is used to detect electrical activity in the brain. And, EEG studies have found that the higher-functioning levels of the brain go off-line when we watch television.
For example, one such higher-functioning area of the brain is the neocortex. In fact, the neocortex is used for analysis and reasoning. However, while the neocortex goes off-line, the visual cortex gets highly stimulated. As a result, the brain is in limbo. And, in this state, the mind is not actually engaged. Yet, the mind is ingesting lots of information. But it is not processing it. As a result, the brain is not fully relaxed. However, it’s not being exercised either.
Consequently, the trick to mental relaxation is not to power off the brain. But it is to switch its focus. Moreover, turning off your brain isn’t what you really want to do. Instead you want to engage your brain in something else. So, don’t let the mind process and wander.
How Television Helps Reduce Stress
Most of all, television’s sounds and visuals cause an involuntary survival instinct. These instincts cause you to stay alert and look for any sudden stimuli in the environment. Also, some shows are specifically edited to keep our attention. As a result, our eyes are glued to the screen.
Moreover, we love watching television because watching television can be relaxing. Also, the brain releases feel good endorphins when we watch television. Consequently, by getting distracted from our daily worries, psychologist say, and television is an excellent way to relieve stress.
Type of Shows
However, what you’re watching may play a role in the effectiveness of watching television. For instance, one study shows that watching reruns can be a helpful way to recuperate after a stressful situation. The idea is that TV characters and fictional worlds offer a peremptory way to connect that is less stressful than real-life situations.
On the other hand, watching a thriller or anything that brings out stressful emotions is to be avoided at all costs. Similarly, watching news channels aren’t necessarily relaxing for everyone.
Laughter and Television
Especially relevant, watching a funny show on television combines two stress relieving techniques – television and laughter. A funny show, like a comedy, brings out laughter. Also, laughter relieves stress by relieving your stress response and relaxing your muscles.
Role of Age
Finally, age plays an interesting role when it comes to stress relief, too. In fact, people in the 30-plus crowd enjoy watching TV. While the younger crowd prefers other approaches, like listening to soothing music, to relieve their stress.
Above all, people these days are amazingly stressed. Consequently, one of the natural reactions is to shut down and lie passively. While this reaction doesn’t necessarily make people feel better, it is a still a very natural thing to do. And, while television isn’t the only way to relieve stress, television does allow people to shut down and lie passively.