Resource: TV Prescription Pacing, from Laughter to Boredom

This post is the 2nd in a series on pacing.

It was a surprise to me when I went to a hospital group session on pacing to hear the Occupational Therapist talk about different levels of TV viewing. We were being instructed to complete a diary of the different levels of activity for a week to reassess our pacing (see here to complete the diary yourself). TV viewing was never to be considered rest and different programmes would be different colours depending on their energy demand. Sherlock should not be considerd a low level activity.

Over the last couple of years I have had plenty of time to think about this in more detail. Realistically most spoonies watch a lot more TV than in their former, active lives (unless you cannot stand the audio/visual stimulation). Even when I’ve been too ill to follow a story I’ve often had TV on in the background as a proxy for company. Watching TV is likely to make up more of our day than meditating. It is therefore important to get viewing habits right.

Below is my TV prescription for you, in order of importance. It is based mainly on my own observations, although you could possibly find research to back up some of it.

1. Comedy

I find there is a definite place for comedy, and it is usually in the morning in bed. This sets me up for a more lighthearted view of the day – you’ve got to laugh so you don’t cry type of outlook. In the morning you’re probably experiencing some brainfog so gentle, family focused comedy is likely to be better than political satire. Depending on your sense of humour, you may want to try shows like:

Everybody Loves Raymond
Friday Night Dinner
Arrested Development
Black Books
Lead Balloon

Please comment if you can think of similar shows that make you Laugh Out Loud without having to think too much.

2. Boredom

I am coming to the conclusion that a degree of boredom aids recovery. When you’re really ill you just get by day-to-day and there is no room for boredom, it feels like life is more about survival. If, as you improve, there is still no boredom in your life it might be because you’re always pushing to your limit (not keeping a spoon of energy in reserve).

I used to record the most boring TV. I’d go through the schedule and think “great, that looks really dull I’ll record the whole series!”. Now with TV on demand it is much easier to find boring TV at the time you need it.

I don’t want to offend hardworking TV professionals by listing all the dull content they produce but types of programmes may include:

Documentaries you have no interest in
A commentator or main character who has an hypnotic voice
Slow paced sports – snooker, cricket and the ilk
Mediocre drama you’ve seen before

The best times for boring TV are when you’re Too Tired to Sleep; you want to have noise in the background or if you’re watching TV a lot and need different levels for pacing.

3. Community

If you’re too ill to socialise normally there can be a benefit to watching a soap, reality TV or ongoing series where you feel you know the characters. This can easily become compulsive if you’re not conscious of why you are watching this type of programme. Now I limit myself to Eastenders (4x week), Made in Chelsea (series 1x week) and Holby City (1x week). Watching familiar programmes like this would usually be a low level activity and good for just after meals or if you’re Tired but Wired.

4. Interesting

It is a good idea to sometimes watch a series you’re really interested in. You’ll feel more normal and time will pass quicker. These need to be carefully paced though, probably not more than 2 programmes a day unless you’re nearly recovered. Examples from what I’ve watched are:

House of Cards
Six Feet Under
Orange is the New Black
West Wing
The Killing
The Wire
Breaking Bad
Mad Men

Can you suggest other compelling series?

5. Edifying

As an overall theme, try to avoid stressful viewing. Unless these are important to you cut out:

The News (perhaps just listen on the radio)
Violent 18 rated thrillers
Programmes that make you anxious

There’s a Secrets to Recovery session where Alex Howard talks about helpful viewing in terms of a philosophy of narrative where human experience is a quest or journey. This could be an actual quest like Lord of the Rings or a story about inner growth. This will entertain you but it will also communicate on a deeper level that you are on a journey with obstacles to overcome, but you can succeed and learn along the way. It may be best to avoid quest stories where everyone dies at the end!

There is an often quoted and sometimes misused Bible verse which I think has an appropriate place in ME TV viewing:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8 (MSG)

14 thoughts on “Resource: TV Prescription Pacing, from Laughter to Boredom

  1. Have been recording shows that are on too late at night for me and then watching as a treat for a break in the afternoon This has been such a treat and brings some pleasure into my day
    Thanks for your great suggestions


  2. Loved Sherlock, also Fargo series which is mind blowing , and recently Scandi noir The Bridge Guilty pleasures include Downton Abbey and Last Tango in Halifax more gritty re runs of Accused by Jimmy McGovern even enjoy British remake of the Bridge called the Tunnel! Thanks be for the DVR and easy operation which has changed my viewing possibilities. Apparently I am looking forward to the Last Detective but have to wait till DH can see it as well
    Great post of yours!!


    • Thanks. I missed Fargo because assumed I could watch on 4OD at anytime but they removed the first few episodes. Hopefully they’ll do that thing of putting the 1st series back on before the start of the new series. I’ll look up the Tunnel. I watched some of the Bridge but have difficulty reading subtitles now.


  3. Love this post!

    I use “on demand” or DVR for most shows also.

    For a good laugh (and this is not for kids) @Midnight is a go-to for me. It is a game show based on the internet and hosted by Chris Hardwick. Played by three comedians for fun – no real prizes.

    Good series I enjoy: Orphan Black, NCIS, Haven, Sleepy Hollow and Castle.

    Reality shows: So You Think You Can Dance, Master Chef, America’s Got Talent and Chopped.


  4. Great post. As well as watching the box I found a wonderful creative outlet by immersing myself in cyberspace ‘Second Life’. It did take time and mental energy to learn the ropes but now I have real time interaction on my own terms with other avatars and I can go to live music shows while in bed! I can meet other spoonies there too.This is one really good thing that has come out of being bed bound.I find it a good balance to the more passive tele watching though I do a lot of that just to get pulled out of myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Resource: Tips for Enduring and Escaping Boredom | Tips for ME

  6. For compelling viewing I’m now watching The Missing and Homeland. Thank goodness for on demand as I can pause it for a little eyes shut rest if watching becomes too much! Nature programmes are good for relaxing viewing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: BioPsychoSocial Stress | Tips for ME

  8. Pingback: Review/Resource: Variations on Pacing | Tips for ME

  9. Current TV suggestions: Raised by Wolves, Modern Family and Peter Kay’s Car Share for comedy.
    Indian Summer, and for interesting
    Bear Grills The Island for community
    I’m short on boring. What’s boring atm?


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