How to stop watching TV

shot from a PBS documentary

In my last post, I mentioned wanting to eliminate TV watching as a way to pare down habits that interfere with accomplishing… not sure what, but accomplishing something.  At least it would offer a way to keep me out of a mindless stupor a few more hours a day. We already read at night, but surely there’s something else we can do.

My husband and I watched TV as a way to relax after work. Now that we’re not working, do we need this particular form of relaxation?  One evening a week ago, we didn’t turn the Tube on. The next evening I went to a meeting and he stayed home, and, again, didn’t turn it on.

Two consecutive nights: it felt like a record that needed breaking. I was thankful that we had recorded the last episodes of two series we’d been watching, and since we had to find out how they ended…well, you know what happened.

I decided to seek friends who might have solutions to breaking the TV watching habit. My informal survey proved that my friends are not normal.  Two of them have no television sets. In response to my question about how they spent their evenings, one said she did housework. A third friend said he watched sports, our local Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) channel and news on three stations.

“That’s a lot of news,” I said “especially these days. Do you have to drink after the news is over?”
“No,” he said, “I begin drinking before I watch.”

Watching three news programs as an evening pastime ranks right up there with housework: not an option. His choice of PBS, however, is a good one.  It does offer programs that help keep the synapses firing and is often our second choice, if not the first. Maybe if we limited ourselves to one channel?

Since friends were no help, I turned to the internet for advice, which, by the way, is another habit worth breaking, especially when it adds up to more daily screen time. What I learned about how to kick the TV habit was to begin by recording how many minutes we watch every day and then cut back. No need to go cold turkey, but watch for fewer minutes, then fewer days. Next, we can limit the number of shows we see, which means stopping before watching any more reruns of M*A*S*H* or Raymond or the Big Bang Theory.

The fall TV season has begun. With each new season, television has gotten darker and darker, airing shows mostly about  satanic cults, serial killers, or alien takeovers of our planet, none of which inspire or work well as sleep aids. Not only can we save time, but also avoid nightmares by ignoring the new fall lineup altogether.

I’m now feeling more confident that we can gain a few more hours a day by cutting back on television series.  I am taking a blood thinner that does not permit drinking, so more than one news program a day is not in the picture.




About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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8 Responses to How to stop watching TV

  1. Darlene says:

    Hang in there—I have faith you shall conquer!!

  2. Mary Pat Byrne says:

    Hi, Ann – I watch a little TV, but I also use the time to practice playing music, or listening to music while I knit or sew.

  3. travelnwrite says:

    We’ve been watching for two weeks and are realizing that we are missing nothing (other than football) while in Greece.

  4. Easy to become addicted—especially to the news, since many of us feel the need to know about all of the potential disasters. It’s becoming a question of survival!

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