Ahh, winter in the Midwest. The perfect time of year to snuggle up under big, fluffy blankets and Netflix your life away.
Which is exactly why I canceled my subscription.
Don’t panic – I took a two-month break, but at the beginning of January, Netflix was like a drug, and I needed to detox.
I go through phases now and then, though it’s become more frequent in the last few years, where I really just want to break up with being so “plugged in” all the time.
When I owned Must Walk Dogs, I was constantly connected. If work wasn’t consuming my attention, social media and text messages from peers and games ate up my day. It got to a point where I was anxious all the time. That’s right. Being so “connected” actually made me anxious.
I couldn’t stand constantly feeling on edge, so I decided to slowly unplug my life.
First, I shut off all my sound notifications. I was actually getting jumpy every time my phone bleeped, dinged, chirped, or rang. Second, I turned off the vibrate feature. WHOA, I know. And when that was no longer enough, I made it a point to take long walks or hikes without my phone. When I needed to have it for safety reasons, I switched it to Airplane Mode so that no disruptions could occur. I even deleted the social media apps off my phone.
Call me crazy, but the days where I don’t have to resort to those measures and yet somehow manage to forget to check my phone (or sometimes even remember that it exists), are some of my favorite days. Why? Because it means I’m so engaged in my life to the point where I’m acutely present in the real world, and that’s such an underrated necessity in technological driven society.
But wait, Anne. Why Netflix? WTF did Netflix and chill ever do to you?
Well, nothing really. Except that it is winter, and I am a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) human in the winter. While it’s been pretty temperate in Iowa thus far (still not counting it out that winter is over, even if I can see grass and walk around in a long sleeve t-shirt), I am still inclined to lay around in bed all morning with a steamy cup of coffee and an AM Netflix binge with my Grey’s Anatomy friends, or shiny, new, dramatic Gotham friends, or my Brooklyn Nine-Nine pals. Or with the Boov because I’m obsessing over Home right now. Whatever. The point is, I usually don’t want to do anything because snow and cold and the days are shorter, which that makes me want to stay in my Eeyore onesie forever and snuggle with my pup.
But that’s not what I need to do.
But Annnneeeeee. You’re an adult (debatable, but by societal standards, I apparently suffice). You can do whatever you want to do.
Yes. Yes, I can.
And what I want to do is kick a whole lot of butt in the Spartan world this year. What I want to do is maintain (ooh and maybe even improve) mental health and emotional well-being. What I want to do is continue to find and pursue things that will mold me into the kind of awesome human I’d like to be. And as fun as Netflix is, laying in bed with it all day is not going to help me achieve any of those things.
Yes, self-control is important. It’s also important to note that I am aware that I lack it in times of weakness, exhaustion, or just plain hatred of goosebumps and shivers. What’s even more important is that I am self-aware enough to know that the best defense is a strong offense, and in this case, that means removing the temptation entirely.
This is the strategy I’ve found to be most effective in multiple areas of my life. Don’t buy processed foods laden with sugar = won’t eat them. Don’t go into clothing stores that I love = won’t spend money on clothes I don’t need. Don’t go to animal shelters = won’t come home with 18 dogs.
No Netflix? Won’t spend precious training and research hours on shows that will be there when I decide I can handle temptation again.
So what happened?
I read a good amount of books. Some for fun, some for training, some just to teach myself something new. I’ve been outside more often, taking hikes and even long walks on chilly days (but if it’s subzero or less than 20* with wind, count me out), I put in more hours at the gym and spent more time socializing with other humans. It’s been a pretty good winter without Netflix, and while I did miss it solely for the stand-up comedy selection (this is my go-to method for a quick pick-me-up), I did pretty well without it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hop in bed with Grey’s Anatomy and PTFO.