The couch potato syndrome

Can we talk about something non-food/fitness related for a moment? I wonder if anyone else can relate to something I’ve been noticing about myself lately…

I consider myself a pretty driven person. My mind is constantly occupied with a million things I could/should/am scheduled to be be doing. I make lists. I revise them. I add some more things. My calendar is exploding with activities. I have trouble falling asleep because I continue thinking about things I missed/could have improved on/should add to the calendar for tomorrow or the weekend.

And then I come home and become a couch potato. Wawawa

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Everyone deserves a break. Believe, I’m all for breaks! The problem is that I completely abandon all my previously committed responsibilities (although self-imposed and seemingly easily deferred). I mean EVERYTHING. Like dinner, gym, blogging, laundry, etc… and I just lie there uselessly, like a zombie for hours (PS-canceling cable has created a new addiction – Netflix streaming… which is worse because all the shows are available at the touch of a button).

What’s worse is that I continue feeling guilty about everything else that I should be doing instead. :( So it’s not a proper break because I haven’t really given myself permission to enjoy it. At the end of the night I get the post-binge feeling. I want a do-over… but I know that I can’t turn back the clock so I’m left with an overwhelming sense of regret and a self-promise to “be better” next time.

I know that a middle ground is the way (like making a proper dinner, hitting the gym, then watching an episode or 2… not 10)… but I can’t seem to be able to get off that couch and do the right thing!

Anyone else ever experience this? Thoughts on how to get out of the funk on days like that?

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43 comments to The couch potato syndrome

  • I definitely can relate! Usually I am so wiped out after work I can barely do anything other than watch TV. To combat the guilt, I started to acknowledge that and plan to get most stuff done on the weekends and even some things in the morning before work. That way I’m doing what I am “supposed” to be doing by vegging out.

    • Elina

      I like that you have a plan that incorporates couch time. It would be pretty cool to feel like that’s what I’m supposed to be doing :)

  • I canceled cable and use only netflix. I think it’s a lot worse than cable.

    I have days like that too. I wish I could stop them.

  • I love doing nothing. I aspire to do nothing. I love tv!!

  • If I sit on the sofa, I will go into couch potato mode. So when I get home, I avoid the couch for as long as possible. Until I have made dinner and cleaned up. I’ll eat on the sofa, but I’ll sit right on the edge as though I’m ready to spring right off it at any moment. And if I do sit on the sofa for a while, I’ll watch Jeopardy! It keeps my mind active and I set the goal for myself of heading straight to the gym right after Final Jeopardy is over!

    I’m like you, I got rid of Cable. I don’t like Netflix Streaming all that much but when I do watch it it can be addicting. Best just to only give in to temptation when you know you have the time to devote to it.

    Good luck!

  • Meg

    Ah, yes! I can’t even tell you how long my todo list is… and yet I don’t have any saved recordings on my DVR. I was talking to my mom about my lack of prodution, and she gave me some pretty good advice:

    Don’t get overwhelmed with everything. Pick something you want to do the most even if it’s something small like starting a load of laundry or loading the dishwasher. Then pick another thing off your list and just keep going (I’ve learned to skip tv “breaks” until everything is done) until you can check everything off! :)

  • I think part of it is understandable. I don’t know about your job but mine can be stressful and completely mind-draining. Sometimes at the end of the day thinking is a bit of a challenge. Some of this I accept. I recognize that it’s probably unrealistic to expect myself to be on all the time, everyone needs some downtime. That’s why I try to do more of the ‘thinking’ work on the weekends and save more of the mindless stuff for during the week.

    • Elina

      Yup, agreed – thinking is very hard after a long day at work. That’s why I leave blogging to the end of the day, after I “relaxed” and then I can’t fall asleep because my mind is still going at 100 miles an hour. I really need to try to dedicate some weekend time to more mentally draining activities… except I’m always out and about :D

  • I definitely have nights like that. At about 2 in the afternoon I come up with a whole bunch of stuff I plan to accomplish that night and then get home and do nothing. If Jeff can motivate me to go for an afterwork walk with him and Gunner, that usually gets me more motivated. Last night I came back and made myself go through all my spring and summer clothes. The bins had been sitting in the house for weeks!

    • Elina

      Having someone else motivate you to get out there is definitely great. I’m sure some fresh air would have done me some good last night. I’ll remember that next time :)

  • I hear you! Although its rare I even get to put my behind on a couch, when I do I find it doesn’t leave said couch for a long time. My advice? (and you may not like it!) Avoid the couch for a while. Eat dinner outside as it starts to warm up. Read in the common after work and have Adam meet you somewhere for a cocktail (once you’re out it isn’t as tempting to go back in!) I posted about the pitfalls about eating dinner in front of the TV but we still do it – you’re mentally exhausted and just want to “turn off.” But we appreciate that time so much more taking the dog for a walk or checking out a new spot in the neighborhood. I the days you NEED the couch, take it – and ditch the guilt – you deserve to relax. But generally if you don’t sit on it it can’t suck you into that crazy couch vortex we have all been victims of…

    • Elina

      I know, I know – the only way to prevent it is to avoid the couch… actually it’s not the couch, it’s Netflix. I’m on the couch right now and I’m very productive. ;) Netflix totally calls my name though on days I’m too tired for anything else… and then an hour turns into 5. Ick.

  • This has been me all month. I think I’ve allowed myself to get into the habit of plowing through the last of my homework to finish early, and consequently ignoring everything else. I don’t know how to snap out of it, and it’s starting to drive me nuts. I think the onset of spring will help motivate me to get off the darn couch and get more active!

  • I totally have this problem and love to embrace it from time to time! How I stop it from taking over my night?

    I don’t sit down until I’m ready.

    I usually work out right after work and even if I come home first I’ll sit down at the comp to read some blogs and relax but won’t let myself settle onto the couch. Then I come home, am ravanous, make and eat dinner and then settle into the couch. I usually have to get up and do my dishes at some point because I’m a neat freak and can’t handle the dishes but this way I can be guarenteed a couple solid hours of TV lounging to sooth my couch potato side :)

    • Elina

      I’m using this strategy tonight. No Netflix unless I can “afford” to watch it. Although I think I’ve hit my weekly quota last night… maybe monthly. lol

  • Ah, unfortunately I can relate. Although I’m not as driven as you claim to be, unproductivity sucks. I came home for my spring break (during week days I live in a dorm) and the procrastinator in me seems to have taken over. :( I haven’t really done any school work and yet I haven’t enjoyed taking a break, either. This is making me feel anxious (especially with exams approaching) and it has resulted in eating badly – snacking through the whole afternoon instead having regular meals or even binge attacks … I seem to have completely lost it due to this unproductivity/guilt/anxiousness. :( To be honest, I can’t wait for the week to be over, so I go back to my ordinary responsibilities. And there I was, waiting for my break … how stupid of me to not make the best of it!

    • Elina

      Maybe recognizing it has helped? I was actually still feeling “off” this morning from last night’s netflix marathon and I knew that a workout would turn things around… but I still didn’t feel like it. Eventually I told myself it was the only way I’d snap out of it so I took the “just do it” mentality and went and the rest is history. No problem being productive tonight :)
      Is there something that can help you get over your guilt/anxiousness so you can still enjoy the remaining spring break days?

      • I guess getting things done would do it, heh … it’s not like I’m not doing school work, it’s just that I’m too big of a procrastinator and I’m not being productive, so I’m wasting time. I need to get myself together and make the best of the remaining days. The bad weather is not helping, though …

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately because I do the exact same thing . . .

    After some soul searching, I realized that I ALWAYS feel like I deserve a break.

    I deserve a break after working.

    I deserve a break after grocery shopping.

    I deserve a break after doing homework.

    I deserve a break after exercising.

    For me, I feel like the world owes me something all the time for some reason and if I cant eat or spend money . . . I put up a pity wall and make sure everyone KNOWS that I deserve to not only do nothing . . . but be a bitch about it too.

    It comes from a place of always doing things for other people, I think. At this point in my life I am realizing that I am making more choices based on what I want to do and its helping me want to do more. I also am trying to treat everything with acceptance.

    Yes, I had a tough day at work but that doesnt mean I am owed something to balance it out. Cant it just be a tough day and be left at that? How about I feel blessed that I am making money instead?

    Im rambling now, and this is just MY take on my own issue but you have to realize whether you truly are tired or you are using your breaks to cover up something else.

    xoxo :)

    • D

      This is so me! This comment really hit home for me. I, too, feel like I am ‘owed’ something from the world. It comes from having a rough childhood and feeling like I didn’t deserve to be in the positions I was, which is true, but I’m an adult now and need to figure out how to live the life I want without constantly feeling like the world owes me an explanation and a break. You’re right about the tough day/making money thing, too. I recently worked a full 3 weeks without a single day off (I work 2 jobs and am in grad school) and I made sure everyone knew how damn miserable I was. Then I thought, “Okay if I wasn’t working, what would I be doing? Probably complaining that I’m broke!” I’m going to remember your comment next time I “want” or “need” a break.

      • Elina

        D – I think my guilt from not being 100% productive all the time comes from my childhood as well. It’s important to understand the reasons behind our actions/thoughts but it IS in our power to change them as well.

    • Elina

      Omg, Val, it’s EXACTLY how I’ve been feeling. After an exhausting day at work I feel like I deserve it. It’s very clear I need to stop looking for an “award” every time you do something, especially when it makes me feel worse at the end. Thanks for making me realize I was doing this!!

  • I had this one day where I plopped on the couch and did not want to get up for the rest of the day. I asked my boyfriend to order dinner in, but I’m glad he got me off the couch. However, I should note that I essentially only get couch time once, maybe twice a week for a couple of hours. I am usually way too busy for more than that…

  • Ugh, I completely relate to this. I also feel like I should doing something all the time and not just watching tv. I try to just remind myself that I don’t just veg all night very often and that it’s good to relax, but I still struggle with guilt!

  • Ah, I GET this. And the worst is that once you’re down it’s hard to get up even if you’re NOT EVEN ENJOYING being “down”. I often just find myself reloading twitter, not even blogging or anything.

    One of my tricks is to bake- getting up and making a little something usually gets me going again, and I manage to kick start the productivity again- of course, once I get myself going, I don’t stop til it’s done.

  • I can be the biggest couch potato sometimes. At work I’m always itching to go home and do something really productive, but then when I get there sometimes I slump down on the couch and do nothing for hours! But it doesn’t happen every day. And sometimes in order to get out of a slump I force myself to get up and do a little cooking, or cleaning, or working out.

    But really, sometimes we need to be couch potatoes! We’ve earned it after a long day :)

  • I’m in exactly the same boat. I work my tush off at work for 9 hours a day, then come home and have zero energy or motivation for any of my personal responsibilities. Sounds like you got some pretty helpful tips in the comments!

  • Usually, like you- I’m on-the-go, but then I will CRASH!! So I’ll spend the whole day in my PJs and I’m lucky to just make meals, do dishes, and keep the kitchen clean! No gym, no errands, no nothing. Sometimes the most I do is read emails. No blogs, twitter, facebook, laundry, etc.

    I must say that I do actually relish when a day like that happens because I feel that my body and soul really needed it. Perhaps you are being hard on yourself? Maybe you deserve that day totally off?

  • [...] Elina of Healthy And Sane posted her feelings about being a couch potato.  She’s a driven person but for some reason, [...]

  • [...] I’m taking a little break for the next 2 weeks. I want some time to reflect, get a few more things done, figure out where I stand with running and even enjoy some guilt free couch potato time. [...]

  • Oh I totally get this!! This is partly why I love DVR, I have my shows and rarely ever watch them when they are on. Then I have the nights…usually its on a day I don’t work out, come home, maybe make dinner, maybe not…and hten I feel like I can “finally” catch up on shows and sit and watch 3 or 4 ina row and once I start its like I physically can’t get off the couch and then its almost bed time and…woops I was supposed to blog that night, or clean, or organize. I hate the feeling too. I find I just have to avoid the TV/couch most nights. I also get this way with the internet… I’ll sit down to blog and end up spending 2 hours browsing facebook or twitter or other blogs and then eventually am too tired to finish what I sat down to do. So annoying!

  • [...] several weeks there were so many days I just wanted to unplug that I started to wonder whether giving myself permission to do so permanently, would help answer [...]

  • caro

    it’s funny. I actually was googling to see if I was the only one this happens to and what people do to overcome it. I’ve been reading some tony robbins stuff trying to get my self to take action. I don’t know why the whole day I’m pumped up all day. I finish my work very quickly at work. And then I get home and once the TV is on or I’m near the bed or couch it’s like my energey exits. And I don’t get sleepy it’s just like a force pulling me. lol I don’t understand why! I have so many goals and tasks I’d like to do and its very unproductive to spend so much time wasting away infront of a TV. I finished my bachelors and I’m starting my masters and I need to study for a state exam to get my license. I will definetly do it no doubt about it but if I didn’t waste so much time in front of the TV I feel I’d do it quicker. I was thinking of setting up a room that didnt’ have comfortable written all over. A room that was similar to an office or library setting. Maybe not so cozy and no TV in it!

    • Elina

      Hi Caro – what you’re describing is exactly what I’m going through. I still have not found the answer. What I am realizing is that I am trying to avoid something by even turning on the tv. Also I DO have the ability to stop although it’s not easy. I suggest you do some soul searching on what it is you’re trying to avoid. Are you fearing something? Are you in need of GUILT FREE rest that you can’t seem to allow yourself? Are there things on your list that actually bring you no joy but you feel like you “have to” do them? Do you really?? Is there a way to make them more interesting? Or perhaps you can remind yourself why it’s important for you to get them done… and how the outcome will make you happy. I am trying to do the same, so I’m honestly talking to myself by writing this. Good luck. Tv is just a delay tactic. We deserve better!!!

  • Catherine

    This couch potato syndrome used to happen to me all the time because I’m a night owl but I can’t stay up late because unfortunately I have to wake up early for school. So I would male lists at night, go to school in the morning, come home tired and abandon my previously made list. Finally I found a cure. Let’s say I wrote “clean the bathroom” on my list. I would encourage myself that if I cleaned the bathroom I would tale a nice hot bath in my clean bathtub. Or say I had wanted to clean my room…I would clean it and then make collages on my clean floor. So by using rewards for my good work it helped me be productive and stay off that couch!

  • DIANA

    OH MY GOD YES THIS IS ME TOTALLY. i can one hundred percent relate to you. Every single time i come home from work or even on the weekend when I dont have to go to work I can write out a list of no less then twenty different things that have to be done but what do I wind uip doing? Sitting on the couch and not just for one hour nooo not me I wind up sitting on the couch watching no less then 3 (2 hour) movies so add that time up. I start out the day thinking I will get a million things done so I can actually be proud of myself but no instead I wind up watching tv for six hours in a row. I hate myself for this. A lot of people have told me that, that sounds like depression. Has anyone else been told that?

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