We all need to chill out to reduce our stress levels but does watching TV count? What about running? And what’s the best form of micro-relaxation?
After a long day at work, I commute home, put the kids to bed, eat dinner and do the washing up. Finally, at about 9 pm, I sit down with my wife and switch on that most glorious of domestic appliances, the television. It pains me to admit it, but I have been looking forward to this for hours.
All of us deserve some time to relax. It makes us feel happy and is the natural antidote to fatigue. There is also mounting evidence that continuously high levels of stress lead to chronic inflammation, which is terrible for our physical and mental health. But is watching the box the best I can do?
At least I can console myself that I am not alone. When journalist Claudia Hammond and Gemma Lewis at University College London asked 18,000 people from 134 countries what they do to relax, watching television was among the top 10 activities. And, as Hammond says in her book The Art of Rest, while some see it as “mindless”, it is often a shared activity and so arguably less mindless than solitary forms of relaxation. The survey also found that 68 per cent of people wanted more rest. I feel likewise and wonder whether that is partly because my second favourite relaxation activity might not actually be helping.