Is Your Remote Control Hiding Anxiety? The Truth About Rewatching Shows

It’s a question on the minds of many TV addicts – is there something wrong with rewatching a show for the umpteenth time? As streaming services offer an ever-expanding selection of binge-able content, is it possible that we’re actually retreating from our own lives in order to dive into the world of a beloved TV show?

Is rewatching shows a sign of anxiety? Is avoiding anything new or unknown a sign of something to worry about? It’s time to dig deep and answer that question once and for all.

What Is The Psychology Behind Rewatching Shows?

The psychology behind rewatching shows is complex and multi-faceted. To begin with, it’s important to consider the reasons why people might choose to watch a show for the umpteenth time. It could be that they find comfort in familiar characters and plotlines, or perhaps they are seeking distraction from the stress of day-to-day life.

Other possible motivations could include nostalgia, boredom, or escapism.

Rewatching a show can also tap into our need for consistency and stability – two crucial components of psychological health. Having something constant in our lives gives us structure, security, and predictability which helps us feel safe in an ever-changing world. We find familiarity comforting because it allows us to feel secure without being challenged or having to take risks.

At the same time, rewatching can become a problematic behavior if it’s used as an avoidance tactic – that is, to intentionally avoid dealing with difficult topics such as grief, stress, or anxiety. When this happens, it can lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness because we are so focused on our familiar shows that there is less space for meaningful relationships and conversations.

Finally, it’s important to consider how rewatching TV might affect our ability to engage in creative activities. Too much time spent watching shows could leave us feeling drained and uninspired instead of motivated and energized. It’s essential that we make sure we’re taking breaks from screens and giving ourselves the opportunity to explore new interests or hobbies.

Is Rewatching Movies A Sign Of Mental Illness?

Revisiting previously watched television shows is not necessarily indicative of a mental illness; however, it can be linked to certain psychological factors. There exists a correlation between excessive binge-watching and the presence of anxiety or depressive symptoms. Individuals grappling with these conditions may turn to the act of rewatching shows as a coping mechanism, seeking solace and a semblance of control in the familiar narratives. It can serve as a form of escapism, allowing them to momentarily distance themselves from the challenges and uncertainties of their daily lives.

The act of rewatching one’s favorite series can also be a means of reminiscing and finding comfort in nostalgia.

The episodes evoke memories and provide a source of consistency in an otherwise unpredictable world. This predictability and the assurance of knowing what will unfold can evoke positive emotions, offering a sense of reassurance and emotional stability that may be lacking in real-life situations.

However, it is essential to be mindful of when rewatching shows begins to interfere with other essential activities like household chores or work responsibilities. When the compulsion to binge-watch becomes overwhelming and prevents individuals from fulfilling their obligations, it may be an indicator of an underlying issue, such as an attempt to avoid confronting pressing concerns or managing heightened anxiety.

Is rewatching shows a sign of anxiety

Is Rewatching Shows A Sign Of Anxiety

Individuals grappling with anxiety often discover a form of solace in the comforting act of rewatching their favorite television shows. This inclination can be attributed to the discomfort many anxious individuals feel in unpredictable situations. Anxiety, with its constant undercurrent of worry and apprehension, can make navigating the uncertainties of life particularly challenging.

The familiar narratives and characters of beloved TV shows provide a reassuring sense of control and certainty, offering a respite from the turmoil of anxiety. By revisiting these stories, they can immerse themselves in a world where they know precisely what will happen next, effectively shielding themselves from the fear of unexpected twists or unsettling events within the series. In essence, rewatching shows becomes a form of emotional regulation, allowing them to manage their anxiety by temporarily retreating into the comfort of the known.

This tendency to rewatch shows can also be linked to the concept of “predictable comfort.”

Anxious individuals may find reassurance in the predictable nature of their favorite series, knowing that the outcome won’t change, and the characters will remain consistent. This predictability can create a soothing routine in their lives, offering a sense of stability that counters the turmoil of their anxiety.

Is Rewatching Shows A Sign Of Depression?

Similarly, revisiting television shows can also be a reflection of a person’s struggle with depression. Depression often brings a heavy emotional burden, and individuals grappling with it may seek refuge in the familiar and comforting narratives of their favorite shows as a means of escape. During times of stress or depression, even simple decisions can feel overwhelming, and the thought of exploring new shows or stories may seem too daunting.

In this context, rewatching shows provides a welcome respite from the weight of their problems and fears, offering a temporary hiatus from the challenges of real life.

Moreover, rewatching shows can serve as a bittersweet journey to a time when life felt more manageable and less burdened by emotional distress. The act of revisiting familiar stories can evoke a sense of nostalgia and connection to a period when they may have experienced happiness and contentment. If the content of the show is uplifting and humorous, it can also act as a source of solace and emotional upliftment, providing a much-needed dose of happiness and optimism amidst the darkness of depression.

Why Do I Keep Rewatching the Same Show? 4 Possible Reasons

Rewatching TV shows has become a common leisure activity in today’s digital age. People often find comfort in revisiting familiar narratives and characters. However, when someone consistently re-watches shows, it could potentially be linked to underlying psychological factors such as anxiety. This behavior may be driven by various psychological mechanisms that provide relief and a sense of control for individuals struggling with anxiety.

1. The Mere Exposure Effect and its Interaction with Anxiety

When a person lays eyes on something familiar, a rush of warm and comforting feelings often follows. These emotions strengthen the inclination to experience it again. This phenomenon, known as the mere exposure effect, elucidates why individuals develop preferences for things purely due to prior exposure.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that the opposite reaction can arise when someone encounters a stimulus they have preconceived as negative.

Applying this concept to the initial query, individuals grappling with anxiety might find solace in re-watching TV shows that resonate with them. Such repetitive viewings provide a haven of positivity and comfort amidst the turmoil that their mind frequently endures.

The prospect of encountering distress or unease might arise when attempting to engage with unfamiliar shows. Consequently, they may resort to repeatedly watching the same show to rekindle those positive emotions.

2. Diminished Cognitive Load: A Cognitive Perspective

With each replay of the same show, perceptual fluency receives a boost. Essentially, the brain processes it more effortlessly compared to novel content. This repetitive process stimulates the same neural pathways repeatedly, priming them for activation.

Considering this, it becomes evident why individuals plagued by anxiety might gravitate towards re-watching familiar shows. Their cognitive faculties often grapple with the weight of their worries, leaving them with diminished mental bandwidth for various activities. Opting to watch a show they’ve seen before demands less mental focus and cognitive exertion, all while delivering a similar emotional impact.

3. Feelings of Control:

Anxiety often creates a sense of uncertainty and lack of control. Re-watching shows can provide a controlled environment where individuals can dictate the content, emotions, and interactions they engage with.

This limited form of control allows them to counterbalance the overwhelming lack of control they might experience in other aspects of their lives. In essence, they choose a narrative that provides a predictable and manageable outcome, acting as a coping strategy to prevent anxiety from escalating.

Moreover, this practice can serve as a distraction, offering respite from other anxieties and concerns that may be plaguing them.

4. A Deeper Look: When Rewatching Becomes More Than Habit

Yet, if the act of re-watching shows becomes a recurring recourse in response to anxiety, it could signify an underlying issue. Research undertaken at the University of Illinois at Chicago underscores that individuals grappling with anxiety often employ activities like binge-watching TV or revisiting old favorites to avoid confronting their worries directly. Paradoxically, this behavior can evolve into a form of procrastination, deflecting them from addressing their fears head-on.

Thus, while an occasional revisit to a cherished show is both normal and beneficial, constant reliance on it as a psychological crutch might necessitate seeking further mental health assistance. If this pattern resonates, it’s prudent to explore avenues for comprehensive support and address the root causes of the recurrent anxiety.

Pros And Cons Of Re-Watching TV Shows As A Form of Anxiety Relief

Re-watching TV shows are becoming an increasingly popular form of escapism, particularly for those dealing with anxiety and stress. While it may provide a brief respite from difficult emotions or worries, there are also potential downsides to consider when deciding if this type of activity is the best way to alleviate anxious feelings.

In order to assist in making this decision, here are some pros and cons associated with re-watching TV shows as a form of anxiety relief.


  1. It can be a way to take a break from reality by providing an escape from stressful thoughts and emotions.
  2. Rewatching episodes or movies can become like visiting old friends, providing comfort and familiarity during difficult times. 
  3. It can also serve as a distraction from other worries and concerns that are causing anxiety.


  1. Rewatching the same show or movie over and over again can become a form of procrastination, preventing individuals from addressing their fears head-on.
  2. Excessive re-watching could lead to feelings of guilt or shame due to the sense of time wasted not engaging in more productive activities.
  3. It may also lead to an unhealthy reliance on this type of escapism, making it difficult for one to cope with stressful situations outside of their comfort zone.

Ultimately, it is important to consider both the potential pros and cons when deciding if re-watching TV shows is the right form of anxiety relief for you. If it is working as a coping mechanism then that’s great, but if it becomes an unhealthy avoidance tactic then it may be time to look into other mental health support options.

10 Things To Do Instead of Re-Watching If You Feel Anxious

For many people, re-watching TV shows can be a great source of comfort and escapism when feeling anxious. But if you find yourself relying on this type of activity too often, it may be an indication that there’s something else going on. Here are some alternatives to consider when trying to cope with anxiety rather than re-watching your favorite show over and over again.

1. Connect With Others In Person Or Online

Keeping in touch with friends and family is often a great way to help ease anxiety or stress. When you connect with others, it can help to bring perspective and remind you that you’re not alone in your struggles. You can stay connected with people by meeting up in person, having phone calls or video calls, or talking through messaging apps.

Whether in person or online, talking to someone who understands can be a great way to gain perspective on your worries and fears. You may even find that hearing stories of how someone else has coped with similar issues can help you feel less alone in your own struggles.

2. Take Up A New Hobby Or Activity

Pursuing a new hobby or activity can be a great way to help alleviate anxiety. Taking on new challenges can be a great way to distract yourself from feeling anxious. This could range from something as simple as taking up photography or doing arts and crafts, to joining an online class or workshop.

Taking on a new challenge can also serve as an outlet for your worries and frustrations. Not only does it help distract you, but learning something new can provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that could help boost your mental well-being.

3. Practice Relaxation And Breathing Exercises

Relaxation and breathing exercises are often used to help reduce stress, anxiety, and even physical pain. Taking a few minutes each day to practice these techniques can be an effective way to manage your emotions and cope with any stressful events or situations that come up in life.

Destress yourself

Research has found that deep breathing practices can help decrease cortisol levels (the hormone associated with stress) as well as increase activity in areas of the brain associated with relaxation and positive emotion.

These alternatives may not replace re-watching your favorite show, but they could offer other ways to cope with anxiety when it arises. Remember to listen to your body and mind – if watching the same show repeatedly is helping you feel better then there’s no harm in doing so.

4. Talk to a Mental Health Professional About Your Anxiety

If you find that your anxiety is becoming too overwhelming or unmanageable, consider talking to a mental health professional. Therapists and counselors can provide guidance and support in managing your stress levels and offer strategies for coping with difficult emotions.

A therapist can also give you tools to help you identify triggers for your anxiety as well as techniques for dealing with them in the future. Additionally, if re-watching TV shows has become an unhealthy habit, speaking with a therapist could provide insight into why this activity may be so appealing to you and how you can better manage your emotions in the future.

No matter what form of relaxation or coping mechanism works best for you, it’s important to remember that the goal is not avoidance but rather understanding and managing your anxiety. With a bit of self-reflection, patience, and practice, you can find ways to cope with anxious feelings that work for you.

5. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Techniques To Manage Anxious Thoughts

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy used to help people manage difficult thoughts and emotions. CBT can be particularly helpful in managing anxious thoughts as it focuses on teaching techniques for understanding, recognizing, and changing one’s thought patterns.

In particular, cognitive restructuring—a technique within CBT—focuses on reframing negative or unhelpful thoughts in order to more accurately reflect reality. This can be an effective way to help reduce the intensity of anxious thoughts and give you back some control over how you respond to them.

6. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation practice that involves focusing your attention on the present moment. During this practice, you allow feelings and thoughts to come and go without judgment or attempting to control them. By focusing on your current experience, such as physical sensations in the body, thoughts, emotions, smells, sounds, etc., you are able to cultivate an attitude of acceptance toward life’s difficulties.

Regular mindfulness meditation can reduce stress and anxiety by helping individuals develop greater awareness and insight into their thought processes. Learning to accept difficult emotions rather than trying to suppress them or judge yourself for having them in the first place can be beneficial in managing anxiety.

7. Journaling

Journaling is a form of self-expression that can be used to better understand your thoughts and feelings. Through journaling, you can identify patterns in your behavior or thought processes that may be contributing to anxiety. Also, it may help you realize triggers for anxious feelings as well as give insight into potential solutions for managing them.

Writing down your thoughts and emotions can also provide an outlet for releasing any pent-up tension and stress from the body and mind. In some cases, having a physical manifestation of worries or fears can make them seem more manageable and less daunting. Journaling can also be a great way to reflect on small successes throughout the day which can work towards improving overall mood.

8. Spend Time Outdoors In Nature

Spending time outdoors in nature can be an effective way to reduce anxiety and stress. Studies have found that spending time in green spaces can lower your heart rate, improve cognitive function and mood, and foster a sense of connection with the natural world.

Being in nature can provide a sense of relaxation and perspective which may help you recognize unhealthy thought patterns or behaviors. Lastly, it’s important to remember that every individual is different so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for managing anxiety and stress. Finding activities that work for you can take some trial and error, but by taking care of yourself and actively engaging in self-care practices, you can find ways to manage your anxiety and live more fully.

9. Listen To Relaxing Music Or Audio Books

Listening to relaxing music or audiobooks can be a great way to refocus your attention and reduce stress and anxiety. Research has shown that listening to calming music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature as well as improve mood. Music has the power to alter our moods and emotions, as it activates areas of the brain responsible for pleasure, emotion, and memory.

Listening to calming music can help relax your mind and body which can in turn reduce anxious thoughts.

Additionally, audiobooks have been found to help individuals relax by providing an immersive experience that transports them away from their current worries and concerns. This can be a great form of distraction from anxious thoughts and provide an escape for a short period of time. Therefore, taking some time out of your day for these activities can be beneficial in managing stress and anxiety levels.

10. Utilize Self-Affirmations

Self-affirmations are positive statements that can help you reframe your thought processes and foster a greater sense of self-compassion. These affirmations, when practiced regularly, can help cultivate resilience and reduce stress levels. Examples of self-affirmations include “I am strong” or “I can handle this challenge.”

It is important to find affirmations that resonate with you personally and make them part of your daily routine.

Regularly reminding yourself of these positive thoughts can be helpful in managing anxiety and improving overall mental health. Additionally, it may also be beneficial to practice mindfulness meditation alongside the use of self-affirmations as a way to further ground yourself in the present moment and accept life’s challenges with greater ease.

Positive thought have a positive impact


It is true that rewatching shows are becoming increasingly common. As a result, this is causing some to wonder if binge-watching is a sign of anxiety. Ultimately, while rewatching can be a sign of anxiety in some cases, it is not necessarily indicative of an underlying problem for everybody.

People may want to rewatch shows for various reasons; others may just love the show so much that they want to watch it multiple times! It’s important to remember that giving yourself permission to relax and unwind is perfectly okay and can actually help you manage any existing anxiety.


Starosta, J., Izydorczyk, B., & Wontorczyk, A. (2021). Anxiety-Depressive Syndrome and Binge-Watching Among Young Adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 12.

Wilke, M. (2022, February 8). The psychology behind why you like to rewatch your favourite movie or series during the pandemic. Life.

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