How watching ‘The Office’ has helped my anxiety

It’s an age-old battle in my household—to have or not to have the TV on before bed. My husband has fought it for as long as we’ve lived together, and to be honest, I usually gave in. When I could step back and really think about it, duh, if you’re trying to go to bed, silence probably would be the best answer. But over the last year I’ve come to a very strange realization for someone with anxious tendencies like myself, especially at nighttime. It’s not necessarily having the TV on while I’m trying to get to sleep, but having certain types of TV programs on before I try to go sleep.

If I should ever in my life get the opportunity to tell someone in the TV business how I feel, I would choose Steve Carell, better known in my life as Michael Scott, and tell him how much he’s helped calm my nerves so I can sleep in the last year. It all started when we moved into our new home and splurged on a new “smart” TV for our bedroom. Long story short, this meant we could now have Netflix before bed. My husband and his brother have for years been obsessed with The Office and have seen every single episode. I, myself, had only seen a handful over the years, so it was now a mission to share the Michael Scott comedy with me.

We began watching an episode or two before bed, as a way to kind of wind down from a long day and relax. Even during the first few episodes, I was quickly realizing how much I was laughing. Like the real-deal, laugh out loud, laughter. I was taking in all these new characters and their quirkiness, as part of my end of the day cool down, resulting in laughter each and every time. I would catch myself saying, “OMG can you believe Kelly is letting Ryan treat her like this?!” as if Kelly was my BFF and Ryan was her not-so-nice boyfriend. My husband would literally turn to me and say, “I haven’t heard you laugh this loud, ever!” So, every night, we would LOL for an episode or two, call it a night and turn off the TV.

And after just a few weeks, I was noticing that I was falling asleep easier, and waking up mid-night with anxious thoughts was happening less and less. More of my thoughts before falling asleep were turning to how hysterical Jim and Dwight’s feud was in that episode, or how hilarious Michael is while trying to win over Holly. Somehow Pam and Jim’s budding romance and Dwight and Angela’s secret affair took over my thoughts and had me laughing rather than worrying. Which, for anyone with nighttime anxiety will know, is way better than worrying about work in the morning, or how you’re going to get so much done this week, or when you’re going to call your friend and catch-up. Anxious thoughts can be overwhelming, and for some reason, always seem to come about at the worst times, unfortunately for me, right before bed.

So although I’ll probably never come face-to-face with these TV actors who have unknowingly been playing an anti-anxiety role in my life, I appreciate their comedic soothing that has helped improve my sleep patterns and my anxiety level. And for that, I’ll continue to watch Michael, Jim, Pam, Dwight, and even Creed, to have a few healthy laugh-filled minutes before my not-so-anxious nighttime begins.

[Image via NBC]

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