The human psyche can only handle so much before it just shuts down. Our minds are not meant to be constantly firing at full power and we often find ourselves losing the drive to actually get anything done. The only known cure is to just wait for our mind to recharge, but science may have found a better alternative.
Researchers at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions found that the your mental resources are finite and can quickly run out even after one completing one task. For busy people, this could leave their next task unfinished as they struggle to find the willpower to complete it. The solution to the problem, according to the researchers, lies in your favorite TV show.
Dr. Jaye Derrick, head of the research study, found that simply watching a re-run of your favorite TV show can return the mental energy you lost. The restorative powers of re-runs comes from the fact that they don’t challenge our minds in any way. We already know what’s going to happen so our minds can take a break.
Derrick conducted two studies from which she formed her findings. The first study had some participants complete a difficult puzzle while others were challenged with an easy puzzle. Some were then asked to write about their favorite TV show while the others were asked to list everything in the room.
The results found that those who wrote about their favorite TV show were able to perform better at solving the difficult puzzle because they wanted to spend more time thinking about said TV show.
The second study was even more apparent with its findings. The participants were asked to keep a daily diary on “effortful tasks, media consumption and energy levels.” Those who performed difficult tasks were more likely to seek out a re-run of their favorite TV show. The same restorative effect was apparent in those who re-watched a favorite movie or re-read a favorite book.
Derrick is quick to point out that just watching any TV show that’s on will not restore your energy. She says that it has to be a favorite TV show that you are already familiar with. She also says that her study proves that TV is actually good for people. It’s a safe relationship that’s free of worry or stress.
If anything, the study gives me an even better excuse to re-watch all of Arrested Development before the new season airs on Netflix later this year.