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Three Mental Health Lessons I’ve Learnt From Netflix Shows

By Katie Buckingham

I watch too much Netflix. Who doesn’t, right? But although Netflix is often seen as a one-way ticket to procrastination station, under closer examination, it can be a great way to pick up a few ‘healthy mind tips’. Self-care doesn’t need to be difficult. When it comes to a general improvement in our mental health and emotional well-being, the following tips can do wonders to better our minds.

Mental health is just as valid and important as physical health – make sure you give it the time it’s due. Don’t be afraid to go that extra mile when caring for your mental health and emotional well-being. ‘Orange is The New Black’, ‘Better Call Saul’, and ‘Glow’, offer great examples of how and why we should take better care of ourselves to prevent instances of overthinking, poor stress management and toxic relationships.

In the fast-paced, high pressure, 21st Century world that we live in, sometimes a bit of Netflix is just what we need. Beware, there may be some spoilers ahead.

1. Be Mindful – Orange is the New Black

'Yoga Jones' reminds us that everything is temporary

When Piper Chapman first enters prison, she finds it difficult to adapt and cope with the thought of being locked up, away from loved ones. She feels isolated and is unsure of what to do or how to behave in this alien setting.

One lunchtime, Piper is ‘ordered’ to go and sit with Jones who notices her erratic and awkward state. Jones begins to tell Piper about mandalas, “The Tibetan monks make them out of dyed sand laid out into big, beautiful designs. And when they’re done, after days or weeks of work, they wipe it all away”. She continues, “Try to look at your experience here as a mandala, Chapman. Work hard to make something as meaningful and beautiful as you can. And when you’re done, pack it in and know it was all temporary.”

There is a strong message here on the importance of being in the present moment and maintaining perspective. Of course, Chapman has just arrived in prison, so this might seem an extreme case, but there is definitely something to be said about the ability to take a step back and gain a wider view of the situation you are in.

We spend our lives ruminating about the past and worrying about the future, whilst rarely taking a moment to focus on our thoughts and feelings at the current time. We catastrophise and pick out negative details in our lives and magnify them, while filtering out the positive aspects. Being mindful can help us to see our emotions objectively which can lead to increased self-awareness and a reduction in anxiety.

2. Take time for yourself – Better Call Saul

Kim ends up burning out because she doesn't take time for herself

Better Call Saul helps demonstrate the stress individuals can experience in high-pressure roles such as the legal profession. In Season 3, we see Kim Wexler slowly deteriorate as she works all hours to support her new client, Mesa Verde. Juggling the strains of both her personal and work lives, Kim ‘burns out’ and ends up crashing her car.

This is just an example of what can happen if you take on too much and leave little time to unwind. Although not so prevalent in the days of Jimmy McGill, social media and emails have led to us being unable to switch off when we leave the office. Increasing demands and expectations mean that we find ourselves constantly ‘chasing our tail’ in all aspects of our lives.

It is essential that we all find time to relax, whether that be having a bath, reading a book or pursuing a hobby. This will enable us to take a fresh perspective on things and perhaps even re-evaluate our goals.

3. Surround yourself with the right people – GLOW

Sheila shows us that who we spend time with can hugely affect our mental health

GLOW follows a group of misfit women as they work together to make a TV show titled ‘The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’. During season 1 episode 4, we see ‘Sheila the She-wolf’ starting her day by putting on her wrestling outfit. She reveals that this is in fact not a costume, but something that she has been wearing for the past five years. “It’s not a costume, it’s just me. And what I do in the morning, what I put on, what I wear… it’s not for you. It’s for me,” she explains. “I know that I’m a human, but spiritually, I’m a wolf.” The girls offer Sheila support to be the person she wants to be. Moreover, they respect her personal identity.

Whilst it is important to be introspective in relation to mental health, sometimes we also need to look outwards. Sheila is able to freely express herself to the GLOW women. It is important to surround ourselves with people who have respect for us and accept us for who we truly are. If we surround ourselves with negative people who exhibit toxic behaviours, we leave ourselves and our mental health vulnerable to negativity. By surrounding ourselves with the right people, we are able to develop honest emotional relationships. Having honest relationships and communication with friends is a great way to talk through problems you may be experiencing in a safe environment which in turn, aids good mental health.

Whilst the aforementioned tips might seem rather obvious, it’s important to remain observant. How we view the world, how hard we’re working and who we surround ourselves with, all have the potential to hugely impact our mental health.

I have taken on board the three above lessons and make extra effort to implement them into my own life. I will ensure that I practice mindfulness as much as I can and take time to ‘wind down’ after a stressful day at work. I will continue to invest time in building strong and healthy relationships and of course, will continue to watch Netflix!

What TV shows or box-sets have helped you to think about your mental health? Please comment below.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/three-mental-health-lessons-ive-learnt-from-netflix_uk_5bf7ed86e4b052aa1843d896