Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and the like have all been keeping us preoccupied during troublesome lockdowns across the globe. We can’t deny that TV has been a life-saver through these troubling times for many people.
That said, they’re still not a replacement for real-life experiences, most of which we can’t enjoy when we’re forced to stay at home.
What can we do then? Well, that’s where Slow TV comes. While it isn’t exactly a new concept, it’s becoming more prominent as the pandemic keeps preventing people from venturing outside their homes. Not only does it provide the benefits of traveling within your own home, but it also provides some physical and mental health benefits as well.
What is Slow TV?
We all know the problems the world’s been facing since 2020. The incapacity to travel has gifted us all with a ton of stresses and anxiety. That’s how a new television style suddenly rose in popularity, allowing people to travel while also reducing their anxiety and stress. And that new medium is Slow TV.
Slow TV isn’t a recent discovery since it was first established in Norway in 2009. Even so, there are debatably previous examples of the category as premature as 1964, with models like Andy Warhol’s movie, ‘Sleep’.
These series are documentaries (usually in long-form) fixated on apparently ordinary events or reporting of a mundane event in its entire length. Following its conception, Slow TV has garnered plenty of popularity in Norway.
Can people enjoy Slow TV?
Research showed that Norwegians watched slow TV broadcasts in large numbers, both on TV and online. Most likely as a means to enjoy the outside world from the comfort of their own houses.
The first movie, called Train Ride from Bergen to Oslo, was relatively straightforward. It was simply showing a ride on a train from Bergen to Oslo. The trip is considered a marvelous journey when taken in person, with seven hours of Norwegian countryside on full display.
The movie showed this entire landscape in its entirety using footage from four cameras placed both inside and outside the train. It was established on the Norwegian television network (NKR) with no breaks and immediate success.
Following this, the production of several other Slow TV broadcasts commenced and has been viewed by both Norwegians and other people across the globe. This includes viewers in Australia, where channels like SBS have been showing Slow TV programs on its media platforms since 2020.
So then, are there health benefits of watching Slow TV?
The question then becomes: why are so many people tuning in to such mundane broadcasts? Well, it’s pretty simple. It’s the same reason people enjoy yoga, or bird watching, or reading, or meditation. And that’s because of mindfulness – the presence of the mind in the here and now.
Mindfulness has the misconception of being attached to celebrities or frivolous lifestyles. However, it is a well-researched way to calm your mind and gain the tools to realize how and why your brain thinks the way it does. And we all know that a calm mind instills a healthy body.
Studies show that mindfulness can reduce the symptomatic effects of illnesses such as anxiety and depression. It also alleviates stress from everyday troubles. This includes a wide range of activities, such as cloud watching, feeling the grass under your feet, walking on sand, or enjoying the breeze.
Slow TV works on this part of the brain that is affected by mindfulness because of its curiosity. And with the current issues that have plagued people since the pandemic, Slow TV gained attention to deal with the accompanying stress. And this isn’t an isolated phenomenon.
We’re used to a fast-paced lifestyle, and that has been effectively stopped during this time. People are now more aware of what’s happening around them, in their homes, and outside. They miss the more ordinary aspects of their lives, and Slow TV offers them a way to enjoy these small tokens of relaxation.
The other notable health benefit of Slow TV is that people get to travel without the risk of external exposure to other illnesses. This is also useful for people with disabilities that prevent them from traveling. So, they get to experience the wonders of different countries, landscapes, and cultures from inside their own homes.
Slow TV isn’t just a way to relieve stress or enjoy the scenery, though. It’s also educational and entertaining for young children studying at home with the pandemic or being homeschooled. These kids get to experience a more comprehensive view of the world, which inspires more creativity and brain activity.
This isn’t restricted to kids either. Human beings thrive on their sense of sight, taking in new scenes and colors every day. Constant stimulation to the brain is significant to keep it active and functioning so that idleness doesn’t affect its effectiveness. Slow TV allows you to tune out the external stresses while your brain focuses on more comforting and stimulating scenes.
The genre is still relatively new and in its raw stages. However, it has incredible potential to be a global medium for people. Whether viewers gain some mental peace or are encouraged to be more active in the day, it can inspire and entertain all at the same time. And within a few years, it may likely be a popularly used health and entertainment tool worldwide.
Mindfulness leads to the reduction of stress on the brain sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S092549271000288X
The success of Slow TV in Norway