Stress. I talk about stress and it's impact on digestion a lot. But can TV make you stressed? Can TV make your digestive issues worse? Well I thought I'd find out by cutting out TV for 30 days.
Are you reading this thinking "She's crazy! Who would want to do that?!" or "Wow I couldn't give up TV for a month!", or "That sounds easy, I never watch TV anyway". I must admit that I was a little concerned about what I would do without my 'go to' relaxation activity for a whole month. What would I do without my zone out shows like Flip or Flop, or Tiny House Hunters that helped me forget about my impending exams for an hour or two. How would I wind down? What would I talk to people about if I didn't have any idea what happened on the latest episode of The Bachelor!
So what does watching TV have to do with stress. Without directing you to any scientific studies, have a think about some past reactions you might have had to what you were watching on TV. Have you ever cried while watching a movie? Have you ever jumped in fright or grabbed the arm of someone next to you because of something scary that just happened? Have you ever turned off the TV worrying about what will happen to your favourite character because it looked like he just got killed off!
If you are interested in learning about how stress affects your body, check out this little 4 min video from TED-Ed.
All of these actions can cause a stress response in your body. It can cause a release of hormones that promote the flight or fight response and in doing so stops the flow of blood and nutrients to your digestive system.
During the 30 days I didn't watch any TV but I did go to the cinema with a friend to watch an action movie. I didn't count this as breaking the rules because, well, it's the cinema! Sitting in the theatre watching the movie really highlighted the impact that TV has on my body. During the car chases and hand-to-hand combat fights I could feel my heart start to race, my breath rate increased, I gripped the arm of the chair, I turned my head away when a fist pounded into the main character's face (Jason Bourne, love that guy!) and I realised that the thrill of the action elicited a physical response in my body.
Now this was just 2 hours of viewing in one day. But I realised that I had in the past submitted myself to this type of situation up to 2 hours every day of every week. By doing so I voluntarily added stress into my life just watching The Walking Dead, House of Cards or Vikings. Life is stressful enough without worrying about whether Rick will survive being captured in The Walking Dead!
Going without TV voluntarily was not an easy task for me to do. It wasn't as bad as I had expected, but at times it was tough. Here are a few of the comments I made note of during the 30 days:
Day 1 "Cool, now I’ll have so much time to scroll through my social media feeds!"
Day 4 "This is easy! How did I ever find time to fit in TV, I’m so busy!"
Day 7 "I really, really, really wanna watch TV. Puh-lease can I watch some, I just want to veg out and watch Marco Polo. Man I hate this. Whose idea was this!"
Day 10 "I'm so tired I don't want to have to use my brain, I wish I could just watch TV"
Day 12 "Home alone, no TV for company, feeling a little lonely...sigh"
Day 22 "This sucks. Why I am I doing this. Stupid idea!"
Day 30 "What, is it over already?"
At times I forgot about TV completely and just did other things but at other times I learnt how much I relied on it for entertainment, company and comfort.
Overall I felt so much better for not watching TV, I slept better, I felt calmer and I certainly didn't feel like I was missing out on anything.
I did watch TV again on day 32 and broke the fast with The Bachelor Australia. Yes the Batchelor! Afterwards I turned the TV off and realised that I really didn't miss much at all. Since then I haven't watched any TV and it's been a week. I think I have definitely broken my addiction not only to TV but the hormonal response that my body experiences when watching these addictive shows.
I don't think I'm at the point where I will throw out the TV, I still use it to view Yoga with Adriene on YouTube for my daily yoga sessions and I might like to catch up with the new season of the Walking Dead when it's out.
So was it good for my gut health?
I think that any reduction in my body experiencing a stress response is good for my gut. It's also good for my overall sense of peace and wellbeing and that's gotta be good for my gut health!