January has so far been the deadliest month of the COVID-19 pandemic (US deaths). There’s lots of optimism on the horizon, but we may still yet be “in the woods” for more months. Physical health and safety isn’t the only important thing, mental health is, too. As anime lovers and con-goers, we’ve got a big hammer in our toolbox for this: Comfort TV.
Comfort shows are “feel-good programs that provide an escape from stressful times.” For some, comfort shows include Cowboy BeBop and Honobono Log. Even anime staples like Naruto and Ouran High School Host Club can be incredibly comforting for stressed out otakus, giving viewers a fantasy outlet for distraction.
Comfort TV is filled with regular, reassuring familiarity, which is especially useful during the uncertain times we find ourselves in. Television shows, especially those written formulaically, give a sense of familiar comfort to viewers, something we all need right now. Sophie Gilbert in The Atlantic relates shows like Frasier have been what she’s “been existing on” for months, and many others can say the same with their own favorite shows and movies. There’s simply something to be said about the familiarity of repetitive predictability.
A random polling of UsagiMed’s own personnel yielded the following favorites for comfort / binge-watching: Usagi Drop, Flying Witch, Haibane Renmei, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Polar Bear Cafe, Avatar (any of them), My Neighbor Totoro, Outlaw Star…
What would you recommend we add to our Comfort TV list?
Santa Barbara professor Robin Nabi studied the emotional benefits of media consumption. In one of her studies, Nabi tested different subjects’ levels of salivary cortisol levels (cortisol is, of course, a stress hormone) while partaking of various types of media. She found that viewing movies and music, no matter the genre, led to a decrease in cortisol levels.
In the spirit of maintaining overall health…
Even as we talk about the values of comfort television, do yourself a favor and don’t binge watch anything to the point where it removes you from good social contact with others. Maintain your social connections. In fact, host a TV viewing party on Discord or something. Maybe even facetime a friend while you watch the same show.
For con-goers, the concept of finding comfort in popular media isn’t anything new, with our favorite anime, comics, cartoons, movies, and video games driving us to travel to cons in the first place! However, what might’ve once been media enjoyable as a pastime or hobby now also functions as a therapeutic escape.
All over social networks in the last year, more and more people have been binge watching and more openly sharing their appreciation of all the differing aspects of fandom: building their own computers for gaming, covering their rooms with “manga walls,” and restructuring their surroundings to accommodate their hobbies and interests. On TikTok, cosplayers have become immensely popular, taking the platform by storm lip syncing to songs and movie scenes dressed as their favorite characters.
While we wait for life to return to whatever the “new normal” is, and while we wait for cons to become safe again, it’s crucial to remember that our health is paramount, including our mental health.
Don’t watch anything that would interfere with your sleep. Set a timer, and don’t watch the news or horror films (if that’s what sets you off) before you go to bed. Pay attention to what your body has to tell you about these things
So watch that next episode, read that next chapter, and play that next game – maintaining proper all-around health is imperative, not only during COVID-19, but all the time.
We at Usagi Medical Group would love to answer any questions you may have about COVID, the vaccine, and pandemics in general. Feel free to drop us a question and we will answer you.