During this extended period of enhanced community quarantine, feeling stressed and anxious has been a common experience for most of us. Classic ways of managing these negative experiences include exercise and meditation, which you most probably have tried within the confines of your house.

Sometimes, another effective way of relieving stress is plunging yourself back into the familiar worlds within your favorite shows and films. Did you know that this particular stress reliever makes perfect sense, psychologically speaking?

Two studies published in Social Psychological and Personality Science explains why rewatching your favorite shows or films works in making you feel better.

In the first study, researcher Jayne Derrick, Ph.D had two groups of subjects; one group must complete a “structured” task and the other group must accomplish a “neutral” task. The groups were divided into two again. This time, one group must describe their favorite TV show while the other must list down all the items inside the room, which accounts for another neutral task. 

The group who wrote about their favorite show took longer writing if they had completed the structured task than if they had done a less-structured one. Derrick says that this group of participants took more effort in thinking about their favorite shows. He also claims that this group restored their energy levels and performed better.

In the second study, participants were asked to keep a daily log and report their energy-consuming tasks, their media consumption, and their energy levels for the day. Derrick finds that if the subjects had to accomplish tasks that required effort, they were more inclined to watch a re-run of their favorite television show or movie, or re-reading a favorite book. This activity restored their energy levels.

It’s the re-runs, not the act of pleasure viewing itself.

It should be pointed out that it is watching a re-run that made the difference. “The restorative effect I found is specific to re-watching favorite television shows (or re-watching favorite movies or re-reading favorite books),” Derrick says. “Just watching whatever is on television does not provide the same benefit. And perhaps surprisingly, watching a new episode of a favorite television show for the first time does not provide the same benefit.”

Rewatching your favorite show or movie has a relaxing element to it, particularly in one’s familiarity with the events in the story. It is therapeutic and good for one’s mental wellbeing. It presents a safer encounter than real-life events which can possibly not end well for you. Another factor is the nostalgia effect of the experience, which has a calming effect. When faced with a scary and uncertain future, revisiting good times in the past can be comforting.

So, yeah. Push-ups, yoga– they’re all good for you, especially in the long run. Exercise and meditation are proven to be effective ways in achieving better mental wellbeing. But if you find yourself too bummed out to exert effort, you don’t have to feel bad about it. There is another alternative stress-relieving activity, and it’s easy as ABC. Watch your favorite shows and movies, reunite with your favorite characters, revisit your beloved fictional places — these tiny little pleasures can help.

How are you coping with this pandemic crisis?


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