- Got all the time in the world to watch new movies but sticking to old favourites?
- Anxiety and uncertainty can make us crave predictability, which creates a sense of comfort.
- If you find yourself rewatching entire episodes of your favourite series, you are not alone.
With fewer outings and more time for TV during the Covid-19 lockdown, you might find yourself rewatching old favourites instead of discovering new movies or shows.
If you have one TV series or movie you can't get enough of, even though you've seen it more times than you can count, you are not the only one.
And there is a likely a scientific explanation – that those who are especially prone to anxiety prefer knowing what's going to happen next and don't want to process any new information.
Order in the world
According to psychologist Pamela Rutledge, rewatching a movie or show you really enjoy can be a simple way of controlling your emotions when your entire world feels out of control.
"It can become really therapeutic, especially if you are feeling anxious. Watching the same piece multiple times reaffirms that there's order in the world and that it can create a sense of safety and comfort on a primal level," she says in Medium.
Psychologist Neel Burton also explains that rewatching shows stems from nostalgia as a form of consolation as it makes us feel good to reminisce and "escape".
"Our every day is humdrum, often even absurd," Burton said. "Nostalgia can lend us much-needed context, perspective and direction, reminding and reassuring us that our life is not as banal as it may seem. It also tells us that there have been, and once again will be, meaningful moments and experiences."
Researchers also found that the comfort of repetition and the effort of processing new information could play a role, as humans prefer predictability, especially in the current state of uncertainty.
Nostalgia might even help you idealise a time or period where you felt really happy or certain of your surroundings, Burton explains.
Is repetition bad for us?
But will it affect you negatively if you are hesitant to scroll through new Netflix options? Burton says, "not necessarily".
Research has shown that nostalgia can create a sense of optimism about the future and may even counteract current loneliness and anxiety.
As long as you are not completely living in the past or in a disillusioned state, reruns may be the best way to take a break from scary headlines and cheer you up in times of uncertainty.
However, if you feel like you are no longer in control of your emotions or if you find yourself showing signs of depression, it may be best to reach out to a professional. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) can help you.
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