Content of the material
5. And sometimes, after watching one of the more ~highbrow~ series, you secretly feel smarter
Signs of Netflix Addiction
The signs of Netflix addiction resemble those of internet addiction. Here are some signs you or someone you care about may be addicted to Netflix:
- Watching more content than you intend to
- Feeling unable to stop watching even when you know you should
- Building up a tolerance, so that it takes increasingly longer to get the same satisfaction you used to get from an hour or two of watching
- Continuing to binge watch despite negative consequences such as:
- Sleep deprivation
- Isolation from family and friends
- Neglected self-care
- Neglected appearance
- Lack of physical activity
- Poor nutrition
- Declining performance at school or work
- Feelings of preoccupation or obsession with Netflix content and viewing
- Trying and failing to quit or reduce Netflix viewing habits
- Missing out on important opportunities and jeopardizing relationships or jobs due to viewing habits
- Using Netflix to escape from problems, avoid conflict, or self-medicate emotions
- Lying to loved ones to conceal how much time you actually spend watching
What can you do to treat Netflix addiction?
1. Self-help options
If you can handle it, one of the best ways to break a Netflix addiction is to quit cold turkey, so your brain and body can reset themselves without binge-viewing overload messing with you. You could also wean yourself off Netflix slowly, by setting timers to limit how long you watch, or installing technology that will cut you off at a certain time whether you like it or not.
Another helpful approach is to change up your routine. If you’re accustomed to coming home from work and switching on Netflix the moment you walk in the door, try distracting yourself with a different activity, like listening to music, calling a friend, or taking a walk. Changing things up can greatly reduce the compulsive aspect of Netflix addiction, so that it starts to lose its hold on you.
But first, you are likely to experience physical withdrawal symptoms, much like an alcoholic giving up drinking. Some of these symptoms may include fatigue, anxiety, sadness, irritability and difficulty sleeping. In addition, any emotions—like anger—or mental health issues—like depression—that you were self-medicating with Netflix binges will resurface, possibly worse than before. Keep yourself motivated by remembering that eventually your brain and body will normalize, and you’ll feel better than you have for a very long time.
Because binge-watching is a solitary activity for most people, it can be isolating, amplifying feelings of loneliness that can be soothed by Netflix, then return whenever the screen goes dark. A therapeutic way to cut down on your viewing while also improving mental health and connections with others is to get into a show with friends or family. Make sure to take regular breaks away from the show to talk about it as a group, instead of trying to devour the series as fast as you can.
You may want to own up to your addiction to a loved one and enlist their help in holding you accountable for giving up or reducing the time you spend binge watching. Discovering new hobbies and activities is another a great way to both treat Netflix addiction and boost your overall levels of contentment. Make sure they’re healthy pastimes, like a form of creative expression or physical exercise, and you may be able to safely transfer your obsession to something that will enrich your life instead of damage it.
2. Professional Treatment
For individuals who feel powerless to control their Netflix addiction, and are experiencing profound disruptions in their health and wellbeing, a residential treatment program that specializes in behavioral addictions may be advisable. Not only do these programs provide many useful interventions like counseling and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, just the simple act of experiencing a few weeks to a few months without screens, and with plenty of quality sleep, exercise, and good, nutritious food, can be enormously healing.
Outpatient treatment is also useful. Sessions with counselors and professional addiction therapists can be invaluable to the process of uncovering and treating the underlying mental and emotional issues that drove you to escape into Netflix in the first place. Commonplace problems that make you more vulnerable to internet addiction are depression, high stress, unresolved grief, loss, or trauma; and poor social skills. Counseling can help you work on these and any other issues until you are strong enough to no longer feel the need to escape your life.
3. Give it Time
Whichever way you approach your Netflix addiction, make sure to remain patient and give yourself time to recover. Overcoming a behavioral addiction not only requires you to restructure your life to avoid compulsive behaviors and promote healthier activities; it also requires your body and brain to heal and reset to a more natural state of being.
Keep strong knowing that withdrawal symptoms will pass, new habits will be formed, and you will break the cycle of addiction. Meanwhile, as you check back into the outside world, you will be in a better place to discover and appreciate the many pleasures of life that don’t involve screen time.