Does the idea of going on a month-long Netflix detox send a chill down your spine?
It’s funny how we can never seem to find an hour in the day to cook dinner, sort out our finances or FaceTime our grandparents, yet somehow we have the time to sit through the entire latest season of “Sex Education”. With an overwhelming number of movies and TV series at our fingertips, it’s easy to fall down the Netflix rabbit hole.
I was scrolling through the Netflix menu one night and found myself frustrated that there was nothing new for me to watch (you know you’ve got it bad when you’ve caught up on all the latest shows on Netflix well before the month is over!). And it dawned on me that the many hours I spend binge-watching had reached unhealthy proportions. This is when I decided that a Netflix-free month would do me and my partner some good. Whether or not we could survive it was another story…
Read more: How Hard Is It To Be A Vegan In Hong Kong?
Week 1 – Dash And Dine
From the moment we began our Netflix detox we were faced with all this extra time on our hands and no clue what to do with it. The possibilities were endless, but all we could think to do that night was to hit the sack early.
For the entire first week, my partner and I struggled to come up with activities to fill our evenings with. We figured a little run might help clear our heads, but the moment we got back to our flat we were faced with the echoing silence of our living room. I turned to online shopping in an attempt to take the edge off and get in some screen time (without breaking my commitment to stop watching Netflix).
The hours in the day seemed to drag and we found ourselves sleeping before 9pm almost every night (which was a welcome change). Another payoff was that every night turned into date night. Before the detox, we would hardly pay attention to what we were eating – or to each other – during dinner. But without the distraction of Netflix playing in the background, we were able to enjoy hours of conversation over a nice home-cooked meal and a glass of wine, becoming each other’s source of entertainment instead. That week, I also found time to work on our budget, pamper myself with a facial mask and read a book (something I was often “too busy” for).
Week 2 – A Moment Of Weakness Without Netflix
After having a bad day, I had a strong craving for a night of Netflix. We decided to hit the cinema for a movie instead (which technically was not in breach of our detox commitment). We did feel guilty afterwards, however. That night, I wondered how many of us turn to Netflix in a desperate attempt to escape the mundanity of everyday life.
I did eventually think of some ways to pass the time. By the end of the second week, I had managed to write a letter to my grandma who lives in South Africa. I also found that my regular on-the-fly WhatsApp chats with friends turned into proper FaceTime catchups. It had been a while since I felt so connected with my loved ones.
Week 3 – New-Found Freedom
By the time we had reached the start of the third week, there was no longer a sense of longing to switch on Netflix. Instead, we found ourselves with a renewed energy. No doubt thanks to our newly-formed habit of sleeping early, we felt well rested and alive.
Suddenly, we had the time and energy to meet up with friends, go on longer runs and be more present at the dinner table. We tried out a number of different activities; we went for a casual round of tennis, joined a blind wine-tasting and even managed to organise a romantic sunset picnic on Victoria Peak. For once, we had the freedom to act spontaneously and try new things, which was a welcome change.
The first week of going cold turkey was definitely a struggle. But once we figured out what to do with all the free time we suddenly had, the Netflix cravings started to die down. We found the experience liberating and, with all the fun activities we were getting up to, we eventually reached a point where Netflix was the last thing on our minds. Even after the month had ended, we didn’t feel the urge to switch our shows back on for days!
Of course, there’s no problem winding down with a few episodes of “Modern Family” after a long day at work. But if bingeing through seasons of “Friends” gets in the way of you catching up with your actual friends, or if you spend more time watching Marie Kondo organise people’s lives than you do sorting out your own life, it might be time to try a Netflix detox!