So you finished binge-watching a show on Netflix (Stranger Things, perhaps?!) and now you aren’t sure how to cope. Don’t worry, it’s going to be fine. Promise. We have all experienced that disorientation, that sense when everything looks a little… different. Now you’re back in the real world and out of the fictional one that actors and producers have carefully cultivated for you to lose yourself in.
Binge-watching is a distinctly modern trend, thanks to having everything we could have ever wanted at our fingertips, countless streaming services and great new shows coming out all the time. It also just happens to be leading to a distinctly modern problem: mainly, what to do with ourselves when we’ve exhausted our favorite shows and have to wait for the next complete season to release in (usually) more than a year — or worse, finding out it’s already been canceled. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up some tips to help you get through this difficult time in life.
16. Start again
While this may seem counterintuitive, I just want to give you the permission to do it if that’s what you need at this moment in time. I have definitely been known to restart Grey’s Anatomy or Gossip Girl an unhealthy number of times in my life. It feels weak, and you know there are so many other things out there to watch, but it’s fine. No one really needs to know. Also, sometimes watching it that many times will wear you out.
15. Read a bunch of articles online about the show
If you’re through with the show but not quite ready to exit the universe it’s created, take a look at what others had to say about it online. Especially if it’s a semi-popular show or one that’s been around for a while, you should be able to find some reviews or interviews, written by people who love it just as much as you do. Even better, look up fan theories, easter eggs hidden in the show and behind-the-scenes secrets.
14. Check out all the actors on Instagram and Twitter
When you’re ready to take the next transitional step to the real world, check out the actors in their real lives. Soon, scrolling back to 2011 on their Instagram accounts for hours will replace the time you spent binge-watching episode after episode. Plus, you couldn’t look before for fear of spoilers. Now’s the time.
13. Watch other movies or shows with the same actors
One more step removed with this one. You’re branching out into all kinds of other areas of Netflix! Watching a movie with Patrick Dempsey (even though he’s kind of the worst) gives will give just the right taste of what you’re missing from Grey’s Anatomy. After binging Breaking Bad, watch The Path on Hulu to fill your Aaron Paul craving.
12. Find a show from a similar topic/genre and watch that
An easy transition out of your show is a lateral move within the genre. If you’ve been obsessed with Game of Thrones, try something else in the fantasy section (although we all know nothing is going to top GoT so you may have your work cut out for you there). If you can’t stop watching The Office, switch over to 30 Rock or, even better, Parks and Recreation. You don’t want to quit cold turkey, alright?
11. Ask your friends what they’re watching and hop on that train.
Odds are you’ve been binging on a show and it’s been a solitary activity. You’ve probably been shut up in your room with little to no access to the outside world for days. So if you have to do it, turn your next binge into a social activity. Figure out what your friends are watching, start watching it too, and let the incessant texts back and forth over everything that’s happening in your respective episodes begin.
10. Turn off Netflix and look around you.
Once you’re done with all of the ways to put off re-joining the real world, turn off Netflix. As in, sign out of it. Close your browser and shut down your computer. I know your eyes are a little glazed over and it’s hard to focus on things around you, but blink a few times and readjust to the world.
9. Go outside and do something away from your computer.
Literally flee your apartment. Depending on how many seasons of the show you were watching, it could be an entirely new season outside your door. Take a walk, listen to a podcast in the park — just clear your head. It’ll do you good to be out of the room you have turned into a den just for binge-watching *That Show*.
8. Read a book instead
Return to the OG TV: books! We all have stuff that we’ve been meaning to read for months (or years), and there’s never been a better time. If you aren’t quite ambitious enough to sink your teeth into that 500-page classic you know is going to make you a better person, reread one of your favorites, even if that happens to be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I won’t tell anyone.
7. Catch up on the work you’ve been neglecting
Sometimes the best way to distract yourself is to stop distracting yourself. Get ahead on a looming deadline, start writing that final paper. Only you know what you need to do. Refocusing yourself in a productive way is a big part of re-assimilating to a normal lifestyle post-bingewatch. Just make sure you do the work with Netflix off, okay?!
6. Go to sleep
Sleep! That thing you put off and put off until you literally pass out when you’re watching a good show. Too many late nights binge-watching your show have lead to too many mornings where you hit snooze five times and look like a zombie. But now, it’s time for your triumphant return to beauty rest, no matter what time of day it is.
5. Google “negative effects of binge-watching”
I don’t typically recommend Googling things that are health-related, because the answers are almost always scary and unhelpful. But in this case, giving yourself the Scared Straight treatment may be just what’s in order. The first few hits on this Google search will quickly convince you that you should probably cancel your Netflix and Hulu subscriptions and throw your computer out the window. (Don’t do that though, this feeling is temporary.)
4. Make plans with your friends
After so long on your own in your fictional universe of choice, this may feel like a big step. But shaving your legs, putting on real pants and meeting up with your friends is a very important step to letting things return to normal. I bet you kind of forgot what your friends look like, didn’t you? It’s fine, just make plans with them ASAP.
3. Do the chores you’ve been neglecting
Back to being productive though less fun than getting brunch with your besties, you should really do some laundry, dude. And when’s the last time you washed your dishes? I hate chores too, but put on a happy playlist (perhaps even a *holiday* one) and get that stuff done. Time to be a real human again!
2. Switch to watching movies instead
Now that your life has returned to some semblance of normal, it’s probably safest for you to stick with watching movies for a while before making another commitment to a show. They’re a bigger up-front commitment, yes, but it’s refreshing to only have to sign on for an hour or two of watching followed by your freedom. And let’s get real, you were easily watching two or three or six hours of *That Show* a day.
1. Avoid binge-watching another show in the near future
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is not to repeat your mistakes again for a while. Practice restraint. Set guidelines for yourself, like a parent restricting a kid’s cartoon access — except you’re the parent and the kid, which is a little weird. Bottom line: Try to be an adult about this instead of giving into your every whim and ignoring your responsibilities. I know it’s hard, so if you find yourself caving, just start back at step one, and try again.