9 Reasons to Turn Off the TV

Your Health and Hours Spent Watching Television Less hours spent watching television can help you live a healthy lifestyle.

Yes, there are other things you can do in your living room! Activities that allow you to interact with friends and family members—such as a lively game of cards—are easy ways to decompress while keeping your mind working. And if you just can’t be compelled to get off the couch, why not at least invite your sweetheart to join you? If your intimacy leads you to the bedroom, all the better: Sex is a renowned stress reliever. One scientific study demonstrated that when couples have sex, their blood pressure returns to normal more quickly the next time they encounter a stressful situation—and the effect lasts for as much as a week.


  • 1.

    Create a game cabinet.

    Appoint yourself your household’s “game master” and stock a shelf or cabinet with board games and other amusements. Set a night every week on which you flick off the television, invite some friends over, and play dominoes, Monopoly, Scrabble, poker, Parcheesi, or some other mind-bender. You’ll get a mental workout, engage in some friendly competition, and have some sugar-lowering laughs.

  • 2.

    Put together an enormous jigsaw puzzle.

    There’s something Zen-like in the quiet, contemplative process of slowly building a jigsaw puzzle. You turn your attention for hours on the minute detail of a painting or photograph, and gradually the image materializes before your eyes. Buy the biggest jigsaw you can handle—some have thousands of pieces—and devote a card table or other surface to this low-tech, stress-relieving pursuit. You’ll happily let the television stay dark for the evening (and, if the puzzle’s big enough, many evenings to come). It’s just as good a solitary activity as it is fun for the whole family.

  • 3.

    Organize your family photos.

    What household doesn’t have a mountain of snapshots that need to be organized? Dispensing with this source of clutter will be stress relief in itself, but you also will get an emotional lift when you glimpse the photos again. If you don’t already have a photo organization system, try this: Find a shoebox or another box that’s the right width to accommodate snapshots. Use cardboard rectangles as dividers between categories of photos. (You can also buy photo boxes with these dividers.) Write a category label across the top of each divider (“Martha,” “Christmas,” “Family,” and “Pets,” for instance). As you go through each envelope of photos, slide the very best into an album, file other photos you want to keep into the appropriate category in your shoebox, and throw out the rest.

  • 4.

    Play a game of 'musical massage' with your partner.

    Load your CD player (one that accepts multiple disks) with music that gets you “in the mood.” You make half of the selections, and your partner makes half. Light a candle and turn out the lights. Turn on the music, and be sure to set the player on random mode, also known as “shuffle.” The rules of the game are simple: As long as a song you selected is playing, you are giving the massage. As long as a song your partner selected is playing, your partner is giving the massage. “Play” continues until the two of you think of something else to do.

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