Apartment Therapy on the Media Fast

Apartment Therapy on the Media Fast

Maxwell Ryan
Jan 18, 2005

This is an idea that comes from Dr. Weil and one that is simple and powerful. Since the goal of Apartment Therapy is to reclaim your home as your own personal space and to keep the pressures and stimulation of the outside world out of it, another culprit to be aware of is the ubiquitous television, radio and newspaper. Dr. Weil calls his fast a "news fast" and says "do not read, watch, or listen to any news for a day."

Here are his words:
I do not want you to become uninformed about the state of the world, but I note that paying attention to news commonly results in anxiety, rage, and other emotional states...

that probably impede the healing system…. I think that it is useful to broaden the concept of nutrition to include what we put into our consciousness as well.

Many people do not exercise much control over that and as a result take in a lot of mental junk food…. My goal… is for you to discover that you have the power to decide how much of this material you want to let in. (Weil, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, p. 78)

I have found Dr. Weil's approach to be both wise and effective, and have introduced it to clients, many of whom have a television in the middle of their living room which is turned on the moment they come home and runs all evening. Whereas Dr. Weil calls simply for a "news fast," I have extended it to a "media fast" as I believe that the issue that he identifies as "mental junk food" applies to most media in general. Therefore, avoid these media during your work day and turn them completely off while you are at home. If your work makes this impossible for you, try this during the weekend.

As you experience your day, and especially your home time without the usual sights and sounds to listen to (music is fine, though if you want to go further, try turning this off as well), and you give your home a rest from the invasion of the outside world, pay attention to how you feel. While uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, you may find yourself with time that is unfilled which you can do other things with. One email I received from a woman in Chicago said that she had started doing this with her husband one night a week and it became her favorite night at home. She found that she and her husband spoke with one another and did things together that they never did on other nights when the television was on. She wrote that she wished that every night was like this, but that it would be impossible to turn the television off that much.

When I first began experimenting with this myself, I was amazed at the amount of time I suddenly found coming back into my day, which gave me time to do such as cook, read, repair, paint or speak with friends. Before the advent of television, our homes were the centers of our personal lives where we could develop skills such as cooking, music or other artistic or professional hobbies. Unfortunately, the highly addictive nature of television watching has robbed these rich personal activities of our attention and the time we need to pursue them. By turning off the television and removing other media from your day, you will be restoring mental space and personal time back into the life of your home. (Photo: Witold) MGR

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