Entertaining Yourself Can Be Productive
Almost daily, my wife tells me that she feels bad about watching so much TV. She’s on maternity leave and spends a great deal of time with our son. She’s constantly playing with him and researching new ways to take care of him. She’s a stellar mom and does everything right.
So what if she watches TV when he’s sleeping on her or in his bed? This keeps her sane. That’s what matters. Through watching TV, she recharges her batteries so she is more capable of handling the tough situations when I can’t be around.
I frequently find myself escaping to video games after work. I often beat myself up about it too. But if I did something else considered productive, I’d just burn out. When you have your entertainment under control, there’s hardly anything more productive to do for the long-term.
In a 2019 survey, 32 percent of US adults reported being more anxious in 2019 than they were the year before. Can you imagine what the numbers will be like for 2020? I’d be surprised if it’s not closer to 90 percent.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA) suggests 14 ways you can relieve your stress. Topping their list is taking time out. You could try mediation, breathing exercises, yoga and all that stuff, but sometimes, all you need is good-old mindless entertainment.
How to use entertainment productively?
The most simple answer is to entertain yourself when you don’t have any energy left. Avoid spending time on entertainment when you’re most energetic if you have more productive things to do, like work, taking care of someone, school, etc.
The main issue with entertainment is that the dopamine rush you get out of it only lasts while you’re still engaging with the activity. Entertainment rarely gives you a boost of energy, but rather, it prevents you from losing more and helps you rest. And as you know, rest is important to recharge your batteries, so to speak.
How much time should I spend on entertainment?
That’s a tough one to answer. How about enough to relax but not too much so you still have time for the things you need to do? If you Google that same question, you’ll notice it’s a popular question on Quora or Reddit.
I like this answer best:
If it adds value because it makes you happy, more creative, enthusiastic, etc. give it all the time you want, but when you give it more time than what it deserves, entertainment stops being entertaining. — Jose F Caraball
I think that deep down, everyone knows the answer to this question. If you feel bad about continuing with your entertainment, there’s a good chance you’re doing too much. But, if like my wife, you’re hard on yourself, ask for someone else’s opinion.
What to do if I get addicted?
This happens to me all the time. I open up a game to play for a few minutes and realize I’ve played for hours. You might binge watch on Netflix because it’s so easy to do without realizing it. Entertainment is addictive — and it’s meant to be. Not getting addicted is the exception, not the norm.
I get rid of my addictions by changing my environment. When I find myself procrastinating doing what I should be doing and playing too many video games, I make it impossible for me to play them. I ask my wife to hide charging cables. I put my consoles in the mailbox. I uninstall the games from my phone. I do everything I can to make it easy for myself.
Pretty much every addiction can be countered by changing your environment. You want to stop smoking? You know what you have to do. You want to stop watching TV, you know what you have to do. You want to stop eating junk or drinking, you guessed it, you already know what you have to do.
Failing to change your environment, you could certainly try therapy, support groups, practice mindfulness, read, or keep a journal.
Sometimes, you just need a break. Forcing extra productivity for the sake of being productive is all but productive. Entertainment is a way to rest and recharge your batteries. Just make sure you get it under control and use it only when needed. When it turns to an addiction, change your environment.
So, the next time you feel bad about watching TV or playing video games, think about the lessons in this article.
For extra help with productivity, self improvement, and more, check out dannyforest.com.