Watching TV can increase stress. Observing stressful events, such as the 9-11 attacks, only increases the stress we already have.
A study published in Psychological Science, conducted by Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at the Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, showed that for every hour a person watched TV about the 9-11 attacks, their stress level increased by 6%.
This study also investigated the test subjectsâ€™ dreams. After 9-11, their dreams were twice as likely to contain threatening themes.
I believe that we can become unconsciously addicted to the â€œstressâ€ or the stimulation of watching stressful events on TV. It does not matter if the events are fictional or news stories, the effects are the same â€“ they both produce a stress response in our bodies. Stressful TV experiences add to our overall level of our chronic stress.
Watching T.V. initially provides a feeling of relief. Our minds are distracted from our current concerns. Our bodies arouse the stress response. Like so many of our previous stressful events, the arousal does not eventually lead to the release of stress. When the excitement dissipates, a small portion of the arousal or tension remains, which causes more chronic stress to build. The pattern of stimulation, excitement, stress, and then tension, is reinforced as we accumulate more tension.
In order to lower the stress our bodies feel, we need to expose ourselves to less stressful events. Watching less-stressful TV may be the one of the easiest ways to create a more relaxed lifestyle. Over the years, I have seen clients and students become more sensitive to TV once they release their chronic stress and develop their awareness. They feel their bodies tense up when watching stressful events on TV â€“ they decide right then to choose more relaxing TV programs.