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No More Couch Potatoes: The Benefits of Going TV-Free (and How to Do It!)

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I am so glad the day finally came… You know, the whole DTV switch day. I was really counting down the days; I couldn’t wait to lose the little black box for good!

We were one of those being warned… those who had a tv with an antenna, not cable or satellite. I did apply for the converter box coupon (twice!), but it never came. It’s probably for the best.

Now that we’ve lost the few channels we had, boy have we had a productive day!

The kids knew not to even ask to watch cartoons first thing in the morning, and I was busy cleaning when normally I’d be sitting on the couch vegging out to Dr. Phil (and maybe Oprah, depending on the show). Instead of sitting on our tushies for hours, we’ve been busy little bees!

Tonight I’ll gladly be redecorating our living room, removing the old unsightly television from the decor and hiding it in an armoir in our bedroom.

We’ll still keep it around, in case we all want to pile on the bed and watch a good movie together, but it will be nice not to have it as an all day distraction.

I refuse to spend a bunch of money on a converter box that the government just decided I’d have to have if I wanted to watch the local news. We have the internet… that’s all I need if I want to keep an eye on the weather.

Thinking about ditching the television? There are plenty of excellent reasons to do so.

Benefits of Not Watching TV

It doesn’t matter whether cable television or Netflix (or other streaming services!) are your vice – either way, we waste a ton of time on watching television.

Decrease the amount of time you spend on the couch in front of the television set, and you’re probably going to notice a ton of benefits. Here are a few.

Improved Health and Fitness

After a busy day of work, it can be tempting to come home and plop down on the couch. It’s relaxing, right?

Unfortunately, this habit isn’t doing much for our overall health and fitness. While it might seem like a stress reliever, something that’s even better at relieving stress is getting some exercise.

Moving around helps to reduce your cortisol levels and improve your cognitive functioning. It’s tough to motivate yourself to go for a run when your favorite television show is on, isn’t it?

You’ll Eat Less

You probably don’t even realize how much you are overeating when you are plopped down in front of the television set. But did you know that eating in front of any kind of screen (that’s right – it doesn’t have to be a television screen!) increase your caloric consumption by up to 10-25%?

Eat at a table instead of a screen, and you’ll not only actually enjoy your food, but you’ll find yourself eating less, too.

You Will Feel More Connected

That sounds counterintuitive, right? After all, lots of people keep the television around because they want to stay connected to what’s going on in the outside world.

And I get it – after all, I kept telling myself that I kept cable because I wanted to know what was going on in terms of news and weather.

However, the time has now come where most families no longer eat together around at able, but in front of a television.

Ditch the TV, and you’ll feel more connected to your family. If you’re raising children, this is absolutely essential – there’s no better way to connect to your family and be involved in your children’ lives than to eat around a dinner table.

Reading is a Great Substitute

How many people do you know that have told you that they don’t have ay time to read? Very few people read any more, and that’s an absolute shame!

We’re consuming media all day, whether it’s on our laptops, our televisions, or our smart phones. But books are incredibly valuable!

They can help expand your knowledge of new cultures, new perspectives new hobbies, and more. You’ll be much more well-rounded (and sleep better at night after reading for a bit, too).

You’ll Save Money

Television is expensive – especially if you subscribe to cable services. You can save several thousand dollars each year by cutting out television!

If this short but sweet benefit of cutting out television doesn’t speak volumes (and convince you to cut the television habit), I don’t know what will.

Let’s not forget the indirect expenses of watching too much television. If you think you’re smarter than TV advertisements, you’re fooling yourself.

Big business doesn’t spend billions of dollars in advertising hoping to convince you – they know they will be able to influence you to buy their products. Cut the television connection, and the companies will lose their sway.

You Can Be More Productive

There are a million other things you can do besides watching television. Maybe you could put a few extra hours toward improving your skills in your job.

You’ll be able to edge out the competition and finally get that promotion you want at work! Perhaps you could learn a new language (which, as a side benefit of just being super cool, also helps to improve your cognitive functioning).

You could even reignite a hobby – or pick up a new one. Whether its photography or gardening, sewing or doing jigsaw puzzles, killing the television habit for good will give you so much more time in your day to explore the things you truly care about (instead of just zoning out in front of a screen).

TV Can Make You Depressed

It’s no secret that the lives of your favorite television characters are probably vastly different than the lives of people you actually know (and yourself, especially)

Watching too much television can cause some serious disillusionment. You may not have reasonable expectations when it comes to what you expect to get out of your job, your love life, and life in general. This can, in turn, lead to depression.

More (and Better) Sleep

There are so many people I know that claim that they “have to have the TV on” in order to fall asleep. They’ll end up watching television for hours just to get to sleep!

The real catch-22 here is that having the television on doesn’t actually improve your quality of sleep.

Not only will it take longer for you to drift off, but you’ll experience more broken, less restorative sleep, too. Ideally, you should have at least 30 minutes of screen-free time (preferably more) before you head to bed.

Not only that, but watching television can cause too much cognitive stimulation. This can create electrical activity in your brain and cause neurons to race.

Essentially, your body will become unsettled and stressed. Not exactly the effect you want when you’re trying to drift off.

Plus, couples who have a television in the bedroom report having less sex. That’s enough of a reason to toss the television, isn’t it?

It’s Addictive

Watching television is super addictive. Especially when it comes to binge watching, watching too much television can be just as bad as other kinds of addictions. This is because watching television releases dopamine, the pleasure chemical that’s linked to other kinds of addictions as well.

It’s Not Great For Kids

I’ve told you MANY of the downsides of watching television – and that’s only for adults. For kids, it gets even worse.

Not only do children who watch television have more gray matter in their frontal lobes (something that is closely connected to verbal reasoning ability and lower IQs) but it can also affect kids in terms of the content.

Kids who watch violent television may feel more fearful or even as though they need to emulate what they see on television. It also turns kids into consumers at an early age – they see something, and they want it.

You’ll Be More Focused

With all kinds of gadgets at our fingertips, it’s easy to find ourselves constantly doing twelve things at once. The more you multitask, though, the less productive you actually are.

Multitasking also makes you less relaxed – so the whole point of watching television might be totally negated.

How to Get Rid of the Television

Expect Boredom

You might be bored – at least at first. If you love watching television, giving it up cold turkey might not be possible. You might be super bored right away.

The key here is to use that boredom as motivation to find something else to do. Often, kicking the television habit will encourage you (through nothing more than sheer boredom alone!) to reignite a hobby or pick a project you’ve been continually putting off.

Come Up With a Plan

Like any major change in your life, you shouldn’t expect to “cut the cord” with your television habit all of a sudden. Instead, come up with a plan. If you don’t have a solid plan in place, you’ll be tempted to turn on the television for lack of anything else to do.

Make a list of things you can do instead of watching television, and post it somewhere in which you’ll be able to refer to it when you’re tempted to turn on the tube.

Getting rid of TV might not even mean going cold turkey. As part of your plan, maybe you only cut it out for a certain period of time each week, month, or season. For example, we cut out cable altogether in my house.

We have Netflix, but we only activate it during the “down” season. We don’t watch television at all from May until November.

That way, we can dedicate our attention to being outside and doing the things we love (like gardening and taking care of animals) there.

You could also try gradually reducing the amount of time you watch television every day. To start this program, first figure out how much television you are actually watching. Is it two hours a day, three hours a day – four or more hours a day?

Then, set miniature goals for yourself – for example, “I’m only going to watch television for three hours a day, instead of four.” Work toward this milestone for a week. Then, after you’ve mastered that and are used to the new lifestyle, bump it down even more.

Start With Just Cable

If you’re not ready to cut the television habit altogether, cut out cable first. Cable is not only expensive, but it’s unnecessary.

Everything you get from a cable subscription, you can also get from the Internet and/or a streaming service, like Netflix or Hulu.

Hide the Television

Like having a bag of candy in the house that you know you can’t eat, having the television right in front of you – but not being able to watch it – is an unnecessary temptation.

Take the television out of the room, or put it in a cabinet with closing doors so you’re less likely to turn it on. You can even simply rearrange your furniture so the chairs point away from the TV.

If you have multiple TVs in the house, consider downsizing to just one. Fill your living room with other things you can do, like a stack of books you’ve been wanting to read.

Make Deals With Yourself

Another rule you can live by to govern your television time is to equate your time in front of the television with your time doing something else – like exercising. Make yourself earn it! For example, for every two hours you exercise, you can watch two hours of television.

Consider Setting a Timer

As I already mentioned, watching television can be addicting. One of the easiest ways to break that addiction is to make yourself consciously aware of it.

How often have you sat down and watched television for an hour after your show finished, just because you had nothing else to do? This habit is not only deeply unsatisfying, but it’s also not doing the rest of your life any favors.

Ditch the Television – No More Couch Potatoes!

Television is often seen as harmless entertainment – but is it really? Personally, I don’t see a lot of reason to keep it around! Consider ditching the TV habit and consider investing your time and money in more important endeavors instead.

So, no more TV for us. It’s been peaceful and quiet here today. I think this will be a beneficial change in our home.

What about you? Did you make the switch or did you ditch? Have you already been without television in your home for a while? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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update 05/22/2020 by Rebekah Pierce


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16 thoughts on “No More Couch Potatoes: The Benefits of Going TV-Free (and How to Do It!)”

  1. The hd antennas, you can buy more than one to triangle them, and get more channels. I stopped buying cable years ago, and when the government forced the hd change over I went out and got new antennas. The good ones that can be put outside cost more usually about $50. But I have been paid back a million times by not having a cable bill, the cable and internet companies get greedier by the year it seems like.

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  2. we recently did this…only not as much. We moved into our house and I flipped when I found out how much it cost to have cable hooked up. So I went to Walmart and got a little antenna. Its now sitting outside the window by the TV and we get 4 channels. (5 if you count the fuzzy #43) Its been great. No high cable bill to worry about. We can still watch the news but the kids dont veg out to watch cartoons anymore they go outside to play. And I actually do some chores! We still have the TV in the livingroom cause DH loves to play on his XBOX when he is home but he doesnt do that as much as he used to either.

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  3. Yeah we did this last year and put the tv in the basement. We brought it back up agian but decided we really have better things to do with our time, plus with all of the bad and unchristian things on tv , I don’t want my kids to watch we are better off! 🙂

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  4. I have no clue why we have cable t.v. We can only watch it a few times a week anyway. My 11 year old daughter does have the cartoons on but when I go in her room I don’t really see her watching it. So go figure. I guess I have it for football season as I have to watch my team and can’t stand a fuzzy picture. I do after all have a 52 inch t.v. and having a converter box sitting on top of it would just look silly.

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  5. I too wish that we did not have the tv (and the internet for that matter). While I love being able to visit sites like this, my husband and son spend WAY too much time on the computer – I hate it and I am willing to live without (I live without at home as it is – I am writing from work now 😉 ). After the digital switch, I lost the TV in my room so this weekend I took it off of my dresser, cleaned and dusted my dresser – it looks BEAUTIFUL! SO, one down, one to go!

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  6. If I had my way we wouldn’t even own a television!!! My husband is the one who insists on having cable. Next year this stupid trailer will be paid off and we will buy a site built house. I wonder how long I can forget to call the cable company? Maybe he will do something besides plunk his butt down in front of the tv all weekend.

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  7. 3 years without….
    What a difference in family communication. My husband and I have such a better relationship now. When I see TV at someone else’s house now I am shocked at the commercials. Soft Porn! Good luck with your transition but it was hard at first.

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  8. We haven’t had a tv since my husband and I got married 4 years ago. I LOVE it! Of course we do have the computer (comes with being married to a computer tech:)) so we still watch the occasional movie. But on the whole, I don’t miss having a tv and we were without computer for a while too and that was pretty nice. I secretly want to get rid of this computer too, but I don’t think that will happen. That’s ok though, sometimes it is nice to just veg out in front of a movie and not have to think for a bit:)

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  9. We canceled cable over a year ago, with some occasional regrets, on my part, but there is so much ‘bad stuff’ on TV that I feel much better without it. I can get news on the internet; I never liked ‘daytime’ TV; I despise most reality shows and I don’t miss prime time TV now that my favorite comedies (Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier) have long since ended. The violence and crime in the prime time dramas gets me down emotionally so I don’t miss those, either.

    When I visit my parents and watch TV I tend to have a negative reaction. Last Christmas Law and Order SVU actually ended up giving me nightmares. I feel better spiritually and emotionally when I limit TV viewing. I also find limiting our viewing keeps my daughter more creative and active, though I do let her watch some DVDs as well as clean/healthy/educational shows on the internet or borrowed from the library.

    I, too applaud you for making the decision that you have.

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  10. My family hasn’t had cable or satellite for 5 years now, and good riddance to those high bills, but we couldn’t do w/o a tv altogethor. We were actually in need of a new set and it came with a built-in convertor box. DTV is actually really nice though. The channels are so clear that it looks like your watching a cable channel.

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  11. We have a newer TV that is already digital. I would have been quite happy to NOT make the switch, but DH wasn’t giving up the TV.

    My rule is that the TV is not turned on until 7 PM. We almost always go all day without the TV, although my little guy watches his Baby Signing Time video (25 minutes) a few times a week. Daddy turns on the TV at 7 PM, but the little guy is in the bathtub by 7:30 and in bed by 8 PM…so he’s really not seeing much TV.

    I’d gladly just throw our TV out the window without any regret…although your plan of hiding it in an armoire is probably much more practical 😉

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  12. we already had cable t.v. so we didnt have to do anything. we like t.v., mostly cable chanells, but I like to watch the local news.

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  13. I have been wanting to do this for awhile. My husband is so easy to convince. The kids are for it. We just find so many other things to do when we are not watching tv. I applaud you for taking that step.

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  14. Yep, made the switch but that is my reward is a good 1 hour of CSI and the news. We go and go and go and we don’t have cable so I applied, received and used the coupons for two DTV converter boxes.

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  15. My husband’s tv is already digital. I got a converter box for mine. We just aren’t brave enough to do with no tv. I didn’t get one for my son’s tv, so he can only play games or watch movies on his.

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  16. We made the switch, but hardly watch regular tv… we don’t have cable or satellite, either. We pretty much only watch dvd’s from the library…. we spend most of our time actively participating in LIFE rather than tuning out to each other…
    Cudos to you for not even keeping the tv out!!!

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