Mindfulness, Minimalism

How turning off the TV has helped me turn on life

It’s been over a week now since we turned the television round and put a lovely colourful crochet blanket over it (to make it look nice – obviously!). We’re trialling a month without watching TV with a view to giving up having a TV in the house permanently. You can read my blog Perhaps the biggest lifestyle change to date here, about the reasons why I wanted to give it up.

So it’s been a week and two days now, and it’s been a really interesting time. First of all I barely miss it, which is surprising given the fact I could happily while away about three or four hours a night watching it pre ‘TV turn off’. Some of that is due to the fact it’s been a busy week, but it’s also due to the fact I have found other things to do which are much more interesting.

Secondly it’s already given me a better quality of life. My wife and I have sat down to dinner at the dining table every night since we turned it off. No phones. We’ve even used that old fashioned medium of communication; conversation. Prior to this we would sit together and eat side by side in front of the television. Having dinner together, and really tasting and enjoying the food (and the odd cheeky class of wine) has already made a big difference to how we communicate and our quality of life.

We haven’t stopped watching TV altogether. I was really keen to catch up on a couple of programmes, one about Camila Batmanghelidjh and the fall of Kids Company, which I watched on catch up on my tablet, and I am also trying to catch up with Happy Valley, which is BBC 1 drama at it’s best, but we haven’t had time yet. The beauty of catch up is it will be there for the six weeks it’s on so there’s time to schedule it in.

The only time it felt slightly strange was the weekend; we’re used to watching TV during the afternoon, catching a film, or catching up on programmes we love, but instead I napped, stuck on some tunes on Google Play, listened to Radio 4 Women’s Hour podcasts, did some baking, and a jigsaw. OK I sound like I’m fresh out of the 1950s, but actually I feel a richness to my life that I haven’t felt for a long time. TV was sucking the life out of me, and I am very sure we won’t be going back to it in three weeks time.

Fancy having a go yourself? Here’s some of the things I’ve done this week as an alternative to TV…

Radio 4 Women’s Hour podcasts are great. I love listening to them, but only get to do that when I’m not working. So now I can take some time in the evening to catch up.

On a similar theme, the glorious Archers is also available in podcasts. I am always behind so fab to get to listen to them.

I practice mindfulness, which I find is a brilliant way to live a fuller, simpler life in the present. I am however rubbish at meditating. Now I don’t while away hours on the TV I have caught up on  my meditating. Here is a mindful meditation for you to try.

Jigsaws- I swear by them. Despite a number of efforts by our darling cats to break my spirit by knocking it on the floor, I have completed one this week. OK it’s pretty retro, and not very of this century, but there’s something absorbing and very calming about piecing little bits of cardboard together. If you go to car boot sales, you can pick them up for a few pence or pounds, but be prepared to accept that there may be a key bit missing!

Ditto adult colouring books. What is not to love about colouring in pretty patterns using pretty colours?  It’s just a lovely way to while away the time. This one from Amazon is one I have and it’s also handbag size, perfect for doctor’s waiting rooms, long train journeys and boring meetings. It’s also half price for the frugal amongst us.

If you’re crafty, take up knitting or crochet. I cannot do either, but I love the thought of being able to.

Start a blog…OK I already have but now without TV as a distraction, I actually keep it up to date!

Spend time with family, loved ones, and furry friends – TV is a good excuse to stay in one spot and watch back to back programmes. You’re not going to want to do that on a laptop or a tablet. You suddenly get a lot choosier about what you want to watch. I spend more time with my wife, with my cats, my dogs, getting in touch with people and giving myself time.

And finally….read! It’s my favourite activity. I can’t get enough of it. I now have time to read a book in the evenings, curled up and absorbed somewhere exciting. I’m currently in Laos with Colin Cotterill’s Coroner in The Coroner’s Lunch.

Hope it inspires you to at least switch it off for an evening!



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