If there’s one thing most women of the 21st century have in common, it’s a Netflix addiction. There’s nothing better than spending the afternoon cozied up behind your computer screen fawning over Nathan in One Tree Hill or McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy, right? Wrong.
Kelly Hoffman, a licensed psychotherapist, warns against spending too much time on Netflix. “The danger of too much time in front of a computer screen is that individuals are not enjoying their own reality,” she says. “They tend to isolate and spend too much time alone, which can lead to depression. Too much computer time takes you away from other activities.” We agree!
To fight the addiction, we’ve come up some fun alternatives that you can complete in an hour. It’s time to switch it up!
1. Get cooking
Take an hour out of your day to learn how to cook something new! Look up a cooking class in your area and go with a few friends. While it’s more likely you will find a greater number of options in a metropolitan area, if you dig deep enough, there should be some in your area, too. You can also try searching local gourmet stores to see if they offer any classes.
When looking for a cooking class, make sure to get the details. There are classes that offer instruction for one particular meal, some for several meals and themed classes where you can learn to make dessert or a specific kind of pastry. All classes are different; you just need to think about your own preferences.
Hoffman speaks to the benefit of trying things that are hands-on. “Substituting activities where you’re really learning something new for your typical hour a day spent on television will slowly but surely improve your lifestyle and enhance your positive perception of yourself,” she says. You’ll have fun while you’re there and get to taste the deliciousness of whatever you create once you’re done.
2. Get spinning
Challenge yourself to a spin class. Cycling classes are a great way to get active without getting bored! Whether you choose to do SoulCycle, Flywheel or an on-campus spin class, you’re bound to shed a few calories and work up enough endorphins to get you going for the rest of the day.
Flywheel costs around $20 to $30 a class, depending on your region. SoulCycle, a more expensive option, costs $34 per class but offers a $20 class for your first ride. They both offer package plans for multiple classes. Spin classes depart from the feeling of a regular bike ride and incorporate different positions, dance moves and sometimes an upper-body segment. Become a stronger you instead of spending the day behind the computer screen!
3. Plant an herb pot
Test out your green thumb with an herb pot. An herb pot is a great alternative to planting an herb garden outside that could be subject to harsh weather and hungry animals. You’ll probably need time to go to a grocery store or gardening store to pick up your supplies, so this could turn into an all-day project if you want. By planting an herb garden, you’re not only taking part in a fun activity, but you’re setting yourself up for success with all of the fresh herbs you can incorporate into future snacks and meals. There’s nothing trendier than a girl with her own herb pot!
Here’s how to get started:
- Choose your herbs. It’s best to start with only a few so they don’t get overcrowded in the pot. Pick from oregano, mint, basil, thyme or some of your other favorite herbs. Make sure your pot is unglazed terracotta instead of plastic to allow for air and moisture to pass through (there should be drainage holes at the bottom of the pot as well).
- Prepare the pot. Fill your pot about a quarter of the way with gravel. The gravel, as well as the holes in the pot, is important for drainage.
- Plant the herbs. Fill the pot with soil-based compost and then place the herb plants in the pot about 15 centimeters apart. Fill the gaps between the plants with compost.
- Watch it grow. Keep the pot in a sunny windowsill and make sure to feel the soil several times a week so you know when it needs water.
The crisp and refreshing smell of fresh herbs will be your reward for all your hard work!
4. Treat yourself to a spa hour
Spend an hour pampering yourself! Balancing academics, extracurriculars and a social life can be exhausting, and we think you deserve to be pampered. Instead of unwinding behind the computer screen when your homework is done, take some time out of your day to treat yourself. Put on some spa music, throw on a face mask and paint your nails.
Taking some time to pamper yourself and relax before bed will help you ease into a much-needed deep sleep. Additionally, Dr. Alexander Mauskop, a professor of clinical neurology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and a fellow at the American Academy of Neurology, says that Netflix at night is never a good idea. “Looking at any screen at night before going to bed suppresses the release of melatonin in the brain,” he says. “The release of melatonin makes us go to sleep, and its suppression can cause insomnia.”
So the next time you have the urge to get a show in before bed, think of the side effects! Give yourself the gift of spa time instead.
5. Phone an old friend
You may be able to connect with hundreds of people on social media every day, but you shouldn’t replace real one-on-one friend time with Facebook chats or Instagram likes. Instead of spending an hour on Netflix, text a friend you haven’t seen in a while to plan a catch-up phone call. After all, there’s only so much love you can fit into a Facebook conversation!
Hoffman agrees. “A lot of times I see people hiding behind their computer screens,” she says. “It’s important to have interactions beyond the social media outlets that so many people take part in these days. Talking to someone in person or over the phone can really be therapeutic.”
Having a conversation on the phone doesn’t require all the effort of an in-person meet-up but will be a great way to catch up with a friend you haven’t had the chance to talk to in a while. College is a great time to meet new people, but it’s important to treasure the friends of your past, too. Take the initiative and reach out to a friend you’ve been missing. We promise you won’t regret it!
6. Perfect some new yoga poses
Use your free hour to learn some new yoga poses! Yoga is a great stress reliever and will be much more calming than an hour behind your computer screen. If you’re a beginner, look up a few simple poses online and try them. It’ll feel amazing to stretch your body in new ways. If you’re already a total yogi, try out a few new poses that are challenging for you, like a headstand or a back bend.
“Sitting or lying in one position for long periods of time can cause neck pains and headaches,” Dr. Mauskop says. Be kind to your body and spend some time nurturing it! Goodbye, Netflix; Namaste, yoga time.
7. Read a newspaper
While it may sound simple and clichéd, knowing what’s happening all around the world is important. There’s nothing worse than getting caught in a conversation about current events to which you have nothing to contribute! So instead of letting yourself be lazy behind a computer screen, make yourself read through an entire newspaper. Even if you do it once a week, you’ll be gaining something essential.
So the next time you feel Netflix calling to you, fight back! We love Netflix just as much as you do, but sometimes it’s healthy to switch it up and try something new. All of these alternatives are easy and fun, and they won’t take more than an hour. Who knows—maybe you’ll develop a new passion along the way!