By Anna Maltby, SELF
If you're like me, the first place you want to go after a tough day at work is the couch. (Unless it's a really tough day, in which case that place would be the bar.) But it turns out, using media like TV and video games could actually be kind of a terrible way to deal with stress.
In a new study in the Journal of Communication, researchers asked 471 participants to report how they'd felt after work the previous day and what media they'd used. They found that people who were really stressed and tired at the end of the day and watched TV or other media to unwind actually reported feeling guilty about it -- they felt like they should be doing something more productive. So in turn, instead of feeling relaxed and de-stressed, they felt just plain crappy.
(That said, the study was based on self-report -- it's possible that the participants only felt guilty when they had to actually admit how much TV they'd watched!)
Do you feel kind of regretful about your post-work TV watching? We say, take care of one or two looming household to-dos (e.g. laundry, taking out the trash) before your bum hits the couch, then watch guilt-free. The study authors also noted previous research that indicated media that provides a "mastery experience" -- video games where you can beat a level or win; watching TV or movies that are thought-provoking or informative -- may be more restorative.
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