Can Watching Friends Help Ease Your Anxiety? One Psychologist Says Yes

Everyone was enthralled by Ross and Rachel's romantic drama—but how would you feel about Monica and Joey's?
Everyone was enthralled by Ross and Rachel's romantic drama—but how would you feel about Monica and Joey's?
Getty Images

They’ll be there for you, more than you may have originally thought.

Marc Hekster, a clinical psychologist at London's The Summit Clinic, told Metro that watching Friends—and other sitcoms like it, which set up a problem and solve it in the span of 30 minutes or less—may help reduce anxiety. “Having worked for over a period of 20 years with those experiencing anxiety, I can conclude that among other factors, it is the repetitive and relational nature of programs such as Friends and [The] Big Bang Theory that will be doing the trick," he said.

For Hekster, part of the soothing nature of sitcoms is the lighthearted way in which characters deal with life’s uncertainties. He claims that watching Friends "is about an experience of repair, of watching the characters in the show repeatedly having worries, which then get repaired and soothed, usually in the context of other relationships in their lives.” In other words: While you may be stressing about work, money, or any number of other real-life issues that exist outside of your Netflix account, you can find solace watching Rachel deal with her own issues, with goofy hijinks and a '90s soundtrack thrown in.

The act of binge-watching is a form of escapism that has some downsides, though. “On the negative side," Hekster says, "none of it is very real, and how can life ever be so ... kind of perfect? It can’t.” Buying into this idealized version of the world may cause avid viewers to believe their own problems can be solved as easily as Phoebe's or Joey's—which is a highly unrealistic standard to hold reality to.

But you can have too much of a good thing. Some have reported that binge-watching any show can have a negative impact on your health. A 2018 survey of more than 2000 individuals prone to long bouts of television-watching concluded that zoning out in front of your TV could actually increase feelings of anxiety and depression. And as The Washington Post recently reported, the couch potato-like state most people assume when they plant themselves on the sofa can lead to poor lifestyle choices—like consuming unhealthy foods—and may throw their sleep schedules off-track.

“Electronic screens emit broad-spectrum light, including blue light,” Ronald Chervin, a sleep neurologist and director of Michigan Medicine’s Sleep Disorders Centers, told The Washington Post. "In addition to delaying the release of melatonin, which keeps you awake, the blue light can actually reset your circadian rhythms to a later schedule."

Hekster acknowledged that the therapeutic powers of a Friends marathon are in need of further study. “[While it's] a quick fix for milder forms of anxiety, those suffering with more severe anxiety may find less solace in such programs," he says.

[h/t Metro]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Transport Your Living Room to a Galaxy Far, Far Away With These Star Wars Area Rugs From Ruggable

Add some villainy to your living space with this Star Wars area rug.
Add some villainy to your living space with this Star Wars area rug.
Ruggable

There may be no film property more exhaustively licensed than Star Wars. And it's more than just the typical toys, games, and LEGO sets. Since the original movie's release in 1977, it’s been possible to fill your entire home with goods ranging from coffee machines and waffle makers to blankets and costumes for your dog.

Thanks to Ruggable, you can now add area rugs to the list. Ranging in price from $109 to $399, these fully washable Star Wars rugs can display your love of the Skywalker saga right under your feet.

Star Wars rugs work in any kind of room.Ruggable

The designs encompass everything from Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon to Darth Vader’s visage to a toile (French fabric) rug depicting iconic scenes from the films.

If you prefer subtlety, you can also opt for graphic design rugs that reveal themselves as Star Wars-inspired only on close inspection, like this TIE Fighter rug.

TIE Fighters can streak through your dining room.Ruggable

Prices range from $109 for a 3-foot-by-5-foot rug to $399 for an 8-foot-by-10-foot version. The rugs also come in 6-foot ($229) or 8-foot ($329) round varieties. You can find them on Ruggable.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.