A new study shows that watching television and playing video games after a stressful work day may lead to personal feelings of guilt and failure.

When many people have a hard day at work, they want nothing more than to go home, relax and watch television or play a video game. These activities are thought of as relaxing, but this new study suggests that using media often results in feelings of personal guilt and failure where the time spent with media is thought of as wasted.

The study, conducted by Dr. Leonard Reinecke of the Department of Communication at Mainz University and Dr. Tilo Hartmann and Dr. Allison Eden of the Department of Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam, gathered 471 volunteers. The researchers questioned the volunteers about their previous day at work or school and if they played a video game or watched television afterwards. Those who felt the most stressed out about their work or job situations admitted they felt guilty about wasting time with both forms of media, rather than attending to other tasks they deemed more important. Not only that, but instead of feeling more relaxed, as might be expected, those volunteers actually felt less calm, suggesting that the use of media for reducing stress may actually have negative psychological effects.

Interestingly enough, previous research has shown that video games and television often help people recover after stressful situations, but this new study disputes that. It shows that there may be a fine line between using media on a heavier day of stress than on a lighter day of stress. Obviously, more studies may be required to outline the differences.

"We are beginning to better understand that media use can have beneficial effects for people's well-being through media-induced recovery,” said Dr. Reinecke. "In times of smartphones and mobile Internet, the ubiquitous availability of content and communication often seems to be a burden and a stressor rather than a recovery resource."

The news isn’t all bad, though, at least for gamers. A previous study shows that playing games on your mobile phone while at work can actually make you feel less stressed and result in higher productivity. Maybe the solution is including more time at work to use de-stressors, like games and watching YouTube,  resulting in a less stressful work day. Perhaps then workers will feel more energized to tackle important tasks after work.

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