Balance, Connections, Down time, General, Student Life, Study

De-stressing Through TV Shows and Movies

October is HealthyU month at U of T, an entire month dedicated to celebrating physical and mental health! October 17-21 (starting today!) is Self-Care week, which promotes ways to take care of yourself physically and mentally as well as how to de-stress. Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that when I initially thought about self-care, I wondered, “Why do I have to be concerned with how I’m doing?” Well, after some careful consideration, I realized that if I don’t care for myself, I get burnt out…easily. I can’t always be on the go, go, go (although I do enjoy that) because otherwise all aspects of my life: social, academic, and personal would suffer.

My not-so-secret way (according my friends and family) to de-stress from the enormous amount of midterms I have coming up all in the same week (scary) is to watch some good TV shows and movies. But first, let me explain the source of my stress. I prefer to study in 2 to 3 hour blocks, even though concentrating for that long can sometimes be difficult. Finding time to study for that long can also be difficult, especially with my other commitments. Sometimes I feel stressed out because I feel like I haven’t studied enough. However, at the end of my long studying sessions, I mostly feel like I’ve just come out of a deep slumber, blinking rapidly and looking around wondering “Where am I?” 

Picture of Robarts Library

Robarts in the Winter: a building that pulls me in for many hours of studying

When I’ve been studying for that long, I always look forward to de-stressing and relaxing by watching a TV show or movie. The Media Commons offers Criterion on Demand, an online database of recent movies to live stream or download for 2 days. U of T basically has its own Netflix! Take that as a sign that U of T does want us to chill out and watch a movie every once in a while. Personally, I watch all types of TV and movie genres, with the exception of horror because I can’t handle that sort of suspense. I love cheesy 80’s rom-coms (Say Anything, although I do love that moment where John Cusack famously holds that boombox over his head), coming of age films (The Breakfast Club), mystery shows (How to Get Away with Murder), cooking shows (Chopped is a guilty pleasure), and sometimes just watching the news, which by the way, feels like the most responsible “adult” thing that I’m doing at the moment. I’m a lover of Disney (Mulan) and Pixar (all the Toy Story movies) and musicals (Grease). Essentially, I never run out of TV shows and movies to watch because I do love such a wide range of genres.

Picture of The Breakfast Club cast and the caption "My face when someone says that they haven't watched The Breakfast Club"

Source: imgflip.com

Sometimes, watching TV or movies can make me feel like I’m being lazy and I have that nagging voice at the back of my mind whispering, “You should be studying”. But TV shows and movies are the perfect way for me to relax and even reflect on my life. Movies have taught me lessons about how important it is to figure out my life (think 500 Days of Summer, which is often mistaken as a love story but it’s explicitly stated in the opening credits that, “You should know upfront, this is not a love story.”). They’ve taught me that friends and family are the best important thing in my life (every Harry Potter movie, especially Deathly Hallows Part 2). They’ve also taught me that sometimes letting loose and not caring about what anyone thinks is okay (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). Sometimes, even the voice overs in shows get me thinking about life. For example, on the show Grey’s Anatomy (literally my favourite show ever), Meredith (the main character) usually has voice overs at the beginning and end of each episode. She gives a little anecdote about life, whether it be about making difficult decisions or just figuring out your next step in life. If you’ve never seen or heard of Grey’s Anatomy, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

Picture of two doctors on Grey's Anatomy running and a caption that says, "Grey's anatomy is on in 2 minutes. Get to the TV!"

Source: imgflip.com

When I have an incredibly busy schedule and I literally feel like the world is falling apart, I watch a TV show or movie. Why? I recognize that my mental health is important and when I’m feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, I know that I can’t perform at my best. So I take a deep breath, tell myself that my work isn’t going anywhere, and relax. Life is too short to be about academics all the time. Watching TV shows and movies is also an opportunity for bonding time with my family and friends by pulling out the snacks, sitting around in our “lazy clothes”, and just hanging out, watching a show. It’s a busy time of year for all students whether it’s because of midterms or assignments (or both, ugh), but remember you come first before anything else. Take a break, relax, and remember, it will all work out in the end.

Do you share any of the same favourite shows as me? Is there a TV show or movie that I should be checking out? Let me know in the comments!