Most Americans Turn to 'Comfort TV' to Relieve Stress or Anxiety

How do you blow off steam after a long day? It turns out more Americans use TV to destress than any other relaxation method.

A recent poll of 2,000 adults reveals that 55 percent watch TV as a self-soothing technique for relieving anxiety or stress. That’s more than the number of respondents who relax by taking a bath (42%) or by doing yoga (33%).

Over half the poll (56%) seek out “comfort” TV shows or movies that they watch regularly, including twice as many people from the Northeast as the West (68% vs 36%). Meanwhile, 59 percent in the Southeast and 55 percent in the Midwest do the same. Respondents turn to those comfort shows most when feeling stressed (22%), bored (22%), or anxious (20%). On average, they’ve watched their comfort TV shows or movies about 18 different times.

One in five respondents (22%) seek out dramas, such as historical movies or shows, crime procedurals, and doctor shows – making it the most popular genre to watch when stressed. Baby boomers, however, are the most likely to opt for comedy movies and sitcoms (25%). Similarly, millennials (ages 26-41) chose dramas 25 percent of the time.

Thrillers, including horror, mystery, and disaster movies, placed second in overall popularity (16%), but stood out as the most popular genre (19%) amongst Gen Xers (ages 42-57). Northeasterners opted for action (21%) and thrillers (22%), more than any other regional group — and twice as much as residents in the Western United States (10% action, 9% thrillers).

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