Watching TV after work makes you feel 'guilty and like a failure'

Researchers found that using media after a tiring day can make you feel less relaxed and recovered

You had such good intentions for when you got home from work: go to the gym, call a friend and sort out that paperwork.

But after a hard day in the office you ended up slumped on the sofa in front of the television instead.

If you feel bad about it you’re not alone - scientists have discovered that watching television at the end of a long day can make you feel guilty and like a failure.

The study, published in the Journal of Communication, found that people who were highly stressed after work did not feel relaxed or recovered when they watched TV or played computer games.

Instead they had high levels of guilt and feelings of failure.

Researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany and the VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands asked 471 study participants how they felt after work or school the previous day and what media they had used.

They found that those who were especially fatigued were more inclined to feel that they were procrastinating by watching TV or playing games instead of doing more important tasks.

This led them to feeling guilty, which in turn made them feel less recovered and revitalised, diminishing the positive effects of using media.

Previous research has shown that using entertaining media can produce a “recovery experience” that helps people relax and detach from the stresses of work.

But the latest study highlighted the paradox of using various media to relax after a stressful day, with those who might have benefited most from using media to recover instead experiencing lower levels of recovery, because they felt doing so was a sign that they had failed to exercise self-control.

Dr Leonard Reinecke, from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz who co-authored the report, said: “We are beginning to better understand that media use can have beneficial effects for people's well-being, through media-induced recovery.

"Our present study is an important step towards a deeper understanding of this. It demonstrates that in the real life, the relationship between media use and well-being is complicated and that the use of media may conflict with other, less pleasurable but more important duties and goals in everyday life.

“We are starting to look at media use as a cause of depletion. In times of smartphones and mobile internet, the ubiquitous availability of content and communication often seems to be a burden and a stressor rather than a recovery resource.”

Additional reporting by Press Association 

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