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My 1-Month No TV Experiment


Stress is a major conflict trigger. To this end, I wanted to conduct an experiment to find out if not watching the moving image (TV/Movies) for a month would improve life or elevate happiness. The anecdotal results were powerful and surprising.


I proposed that abstaining from all TV/movies/moving images for a month would improve my quality of life—particularly as it relates to reducing stress levels. Also, having a film background intrigued me in how much this experiment would affect me.


The rules were simple. No moving images, of any kind, anywhere, anytime—during work or free time. That included NO:

  • TV
  • Movies (at home or in a theater);
  • Video on the internet (such as YouTube/Vimeo)
  • Video on the smartphone
  • Video encountered outside the home (such as the Winter Olympics televised in a restaurant)

In anticipation of the month without moving images, I created a list of substitute leisure activities that I was interested in pursuing in place of TV. Examples on the list included activities such as a dinner party, craft night, and writing.

My wife and I jointly decided to embark on this experiment together as we were very interested in seeing what would happen.

We cancelled our Netflix and began February 1st.


What I did not count on was how much this experiment would change my life for the better.


Less Stress & More Mental Clarity

Within the first few days I could feel more mental clarity, content, and calm during the day. But most importantly, I was feeling much less stress. I felt as if I had more time and more “mental space”. I didn’t feel as if my schedule was so ‘rushed’ to fit everything in. And, I felt as if my patience threshold had grown.

More Energy & Vivid Dreams

We both observed that in addition to more energy, interestingly, our dreams became more vivid. Perhaps the elevated clarity was derived from more productive dreaming. I speculated that because the brain does not necessarily differentiate between real images and video images, the brain does not get the chance to really process your life because you are too busy processing another’s.

Reducing moving images may give your brain a break by giving it less to process during the night. With a consequently shorter sleep cycle (akin to a heavily fragmented hard drive crowded with other’s images), it is probably no surprise that we feel exhausted the next morning after a prior evening of particularly violent or stress-inducing media.

Such images can be particularly unhealthy because they are strong, and possibly triggering a fight or flight response subliminally, and we must process these first. However, perhaps we don’t get a chance to get to our dreams because these violent images take precedence.

The better the sleep you get, generally, the better your overall health. We were very impressed with the degree to which the overall quality of our sleep improved and this likely had a direct effect on the elevated energy levels we felt.

More Human Connection

Another positive side-benefit we discovered was stronger bonding. More than one evening involved talking with each other, which of course is great for strengthening a relationship. TV can take up the time you would have otherwise used for real human connection. While watching TV, we are typically engaged in that activity alone, which is not particularly conducive to strengthening a relationship, which requires focus, listening, and communication. For us, we found the extra time to chat truly enriching—and free.



Alas, all did not go well without a hitch. Along with my wife, within the first week or two, we both reported having some mild withdrawal symptoms. Perhaps just a couple times I noticed that I craved the idea of relaxing to a TV show. However, the discomfort did subside. My wife, on the other hand, experienced a little more struggle with it and had to stop herself more than once to remind herself that TV was not on the agenda.

Slip Ups & Bombardment

There was at least one moment when I was in a restaurant and began to notice, ever so slightly, that I began unconsciously consuming a TV broadcast for a brief moment. I also noticed that there are occasions online now when videos start playing automatically with no stop or pause button in sight. But the consumption had been done. Without even consciously being aware, I noticed that a movie trailer started playing and before I even knew it, a few moments had passed.

Trying to avoid TV/moving images in an urban space is extremely challenging. In Los Angeles, media is ubiquitous. You will find it in the elevator, lobby, gym, restaurant, grocery store, on public transit and billboards, and at the gas pump. Averting your eyes takes considerable awareness and energy. But considering how powerful it is, we wanted to see what would happen with reducing it.



A negative discovery of this experiment was the surprising negativity and/or shock from some family members and friends about it. When we discussed our adventure, we simply said we were doing a month-long challenge without TV. We reasoned that some people might see this challenge as extreme. But considering how powerful and prevalent media is in our urban dwelling, we reasoned that it was an experiment worth exploring.

Nevertheless, the responses to our challenge ranged from gasps to scoffing. What intrigued us was how strong people’s responses were. We had not suffered from a calamity or joined a cult. We simply decided to stop watching TV for a month!


Interestingly, even two weeks after the experiment, we did not feel an urgent need to rush and turn the TV back on. Selective consumption feels much more appealing now.

Taking a break from the moving image had its share of challenges. However, I enjoyed the time and I dramatically reduced the amount of stress I felt on a day-to-day basis, which resulted in feeling more calm and energized. As a conflict management technique, managing media exposure could be very effective. Given the benefits we observed, even reducing some moving image exposure may help you to find some untapped energy.



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