I’m currently working on something that’s been years in the making.
That thing is: not being on anti-depressant medication. I have to say, it’s been pretty tough the last few months. Part of how I’m going about it is writing my own prescription for what I need to live a meaningful life. This involves a number of things, which I’m planning to write about soon in an up-coming blog post (stay tuned!).
One of the factors of my plan? Less TV.
This comes about because I’ve noticed a recurring pattern of action and response. The action is : watching TV, whether episodes in a series or a movie, usually with dinner (or lunch!), and may be anywhere from one twenty minute episode to three movies in a single day (yep, Oceans 11, 12 and 13 one after the other! Yes, it was epic).
I don’t have a belief that watching TV is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, rather, I’ve noticed that for me personally, when I switch it off after finishing, most often I feel a bit crappy. Either tired, or bored, or just kind of empty and frustrated. Which tells me: TV is not filling my cup or meeting my needs.
I’m also noticing that increasingly, while the TV is on, I’m picking up my phone and just casually checking in on instagram or something similar. Which tells me: I’m not fully engaged in the TV watching.
The hard part though?
I have the thought ‘All I want to do is lay on the couch and watch TV’ multiple times a day. It’s a really tricky part of depression, (and also everyday life!) where our thoughts really aren’t true, or helpful. In the case of this thought, I have tried appeasing it, and going ahead and watching the TV, and I’ve also tried opposing it, by going to work or going for a run, or doing anything else. As I mentioned, when I’ve been appeasing the thought, I’m mostly ending up feeling crappy. When I’ve been opposing it? I usually end up feeling better.
So I’ve decided to make a call – this thought is no longer helpful, and therefore I’m going to let it be there without letting it run my life. My more in-tune self knows that I feel better when I do something that isn’t watching TV, so that’s what I’m going to do.
The problem remains, I’m still going to have the thought that I want to watch it. How do I deal with that?
- Practice ACT principles of making space for the thought through mindfulness and breathing practices, allowing it to be there, and make a choice to act based on my values, and
- Prepare alternatives for those times when I want to watch it.
- Not go cold turkey. I’m allowing myself TV nights on Friday and Sunday.
The alternative activities I’ve come up with so far are:
- have a bath
- read a book
- do some colouring in
- do some writing
- do some cooking