More than half of Americans want ‘comfort’ TV and movies: Poll

There’s a reason Grey’s Anatomy continues to do so well after endless seasons, and why everyone tunes in to see flawed characters on Ted Lasso doing their best.

A new survey shows that most Americans turn to television to unwind, ahead of other methods that appear more commonly, like meditation or a bubble bath.

A recent survey of 2,000 people conducted by OnePoll on behalf of streamer Philo found that 55% of American adults use “comfortable” TV and movies to calm themselves and distract themselves from anxiety or stress.

“It could have something to do with the reward centers in your brain,” said Dr. Natalie King, PhD, brain health expert and neuroscientist, in the report. “Watching your favorite television series can encourage the release of dopamine, which creates a feeling of euphoria. Dopamine is essentially saying to the brain, ‘You’re enjoying this… Keep it up!’”

A group of 4 friends are watching TV together.
No more bubble baths: More than half of Americans are turning to “comfort TV” to relieve stress
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Compared to those using “Comfort TV,” only 42% of respondents said they turn to a bath as a self-soothing technique, while 33% said yoga relaxes them. That means more and more people are giving up bubble baths and instead kicking back on the couch and watching the teachers at Abbott Elementary or the staff at The Office engage in banter to ease anxiety.

In addition, 56% of participants said they watch “comfort shows” regularly, sometimes up to 18 times, when they’re feeling bored or stressed. And oddly enough, twice as many people from the Northeast do so as from the West. So maybe the fast pace of life in New York is making more people turn to The Bachelor or Bridgerton.

But what kind of shows do people tune into to relieve stress?

A graphic of a study.
According to surveys, more than half of Americans use television to relax and unwind.

Like everything else, it depends on the generation. Baby boomers most often opt for sitcoms like Young Sheldon or Grace and Frankie, while millennials choose dramas like Grey’s Anatomy and Gen-Xer thrillers like The Blacklist, Yellowstone or Reacher. Thrillers are those too most popular genre among people from the Northeast.

Snacking in front of the TV, watching TV with friends and wearing comfortable loungewear are also part of the self-soothing techniques, according to the survey. But interestingly, the selection of snacks also varies between genres. Action and thriller fans are more likely to grab chips or popcorn, while attendees who prefer drama may prefer sweet or savory snacks.

So if you find that yoga and bubble baths just aren’t enough to ease your worries, there’s always a TV show you can turn to.

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