People who are most stressed after work get the least out of watching TV and playing video games to relax, a recent study finds.
In fact, those with the highest levels of stress also experience greater shame and feelings of failure about using TV and video games to wind down.
Ironically, it is people who are the most exhausted after work who have the most to gain from flopping down in front of the box.
Research has consistently found that relatively mindless activities, like consuming media, can help people restore their mental energies, but for stressed out people this does not seem to be the case.
The findings come from surveys of around 500 people in Switzerland and Germany (Reinecke et al., 2014).
They were asked how much work they had done the previous day, how tired they felt and how much video-gaming or TV they’d indulged in.
They were also asked about their feelings of guilt, procrastination and whether they felt their downtime had been effective in re-energising them.
Dr. Leonard Reinecke, the study’s lead author, said:
“We are beginning to better understand that media use can have beneficial effects for people’s well-being through media-induced recovery.
Our present study is an important step towards a deeper understanding of this.
It demonstrates that in real life the relationship between media use and well-being is complicated and that the use of media may conflict with other, less pleasurable but more important duties and goals in everyday life.”
One possible implication of the finding is that going easier on yourself about how you spend much-needed down-time may be beneficial.
Feeling guilty about relaxing when you are exhausted means that you end up failing to relax properly.
It is much better to kick back and totally absorb yourself in your favourite TV show or video game and feel the benefits.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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