Drama Detox: Reasons to Go On Hiatus

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This is the second post in my Drama Detox series, which promotes healthy drama-watching habits.  It includes tips, ideas, personal experiences and musings on the struggles of Asian drama addicts & bloggers.


What is a hiatus?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a hiatus is

“an interruption in time or continuity :  break; especially:  a period when something (as a program or activity) is suspended or interrupted”

For a drama addict, the idea of not watching any dramas at all can seem daunting and almost like self-punishment.  Rather than calling a hiatus a “suspension,” I choose to call it “taking a break”.  For many of us, watching dramas IS taking a break.  It’s a hobby we do in our free time to relax.  But is it really taking a break if one uses dramas as an excuse to procrastinate?  If dramas are interfering with other commitments such as school or work?  If dramas are dominating one’s life?  I’d say no.  In these cases, it is not really relaxing, because it only piles on more stress in the long run.  I cannot say that procrastination via dramas has ever made me feel totally great.

Sometimes taking a break from dramas can be a beneficial choice for yourself.  Taking a break does not mean you’ll be painfully enduring no-drama days or going through drama withdrawal.  It simply means that you are taking a break to focus on other important parts of your life.


Reasons to go on hiatus

  • Having a pressing, important deadline coming up
    • Ex. finals, tests, assignments, essays, applications
  • Using dramas to procrastinate
  • Not enough time to do everything you want to do
  • Trouble concentrating on your studies/work
  • Feelings of negativity that may result from dramas
    • Ex. fan wars, hating a character, feeling frustrated with a drama that has gone down the drain, negative publicity
  • Getting too attached/obsessed with dramas
  • Poor health as a result of binge-watching
    • Ex. Lack of sleep

Benefits to going on hiatus:

  • More time to do what you need and want to do
  • Can help you meet your deadlines
  • Less distractions
  • Less feelings of obligation & commitment to watch/blog dramas
  • Less instant gratification
  • Decrease the negativity, escapism and stress that may result from watching too many dramas
  • Decreases procrastination, and the stress that comes from procrastination

Tips

Be real with yourself.

When asking yourself whether a hiatus is right for you, be 100% honest with yourself.  Sometimes it can be hard to admit to yourself “I’m spending way too much time blogging/watching dramas”.  It’s especially hard if you feel guilty about being addicted to dramas, or if you prefer to use dramas as a form of escapism.  Your urge may be to simply procrastinate on stopping your procrastination, or escaping from confronting your drama addiction.  It doesn’t have to be all that painful or difficult to do this.   Evaluating yourself is simply about observing what is working for you and what isn’t.

Ask yourself:

  • How much value do dramas add to your life?
  • What are your top priorities?
  • What decision is best for you?

Semi-hiatus versus full hiatus

Going on hiatus does not mean that you have to stop watching all dramas/Asian entertainment and never write a word on your blog.  If you want some more leeway or if you want to ease into a full hiatus, you could try going on semi-hiatus.  This means that you decrease your drama-time, but perhaps you don’t eliminate it completely.  The downside of a semi-hiatus is that the temptation to watch dramas may be stronger since you’ve given yourself more leeway.

If you want to be more extreme or have a very pressing situation (such as major exams coming up), you may want to try going on a full hiatus.  A lot of drama fans are students, and I’ve seen many of them go on full-hiatus during exams time.  My impression of a full hiatus is that it requires more self-discipline and a full commitment to it.

Indefinite versus a specific time period

You get to choose how long your hiatus will last.  If you’re unsure how long you want to be on hiatus for, you can declare “indefinite hiatus”.  Or, if you’re on hiatus for a certain reason such as exams, you could define a time period.  A common choice is to go on hiatus until a school break starts.

Try it out.

If you’re not sure whether going on hiatus is right for you, you could just give it a trial run.  Try it out for a week, or for a few days, and see how it feels.  See if you get any results from going on hiatus or not.

Declare hiatus

The first step is to declare hiatus by writing it out or telling someone about your commitment.  Post it on your blog or social media, write it down in your journal, or tell a family member or friend.  Write down the reasons why you’ve gone on hiatus.  Declaring hiatus makes it feel more official and concrete.

Hold yourself accountable

You are the first person that can hold yourself accountable.  Remind yourself of the reasons why you’re on hiatus when you feel tempted to go back to watching a lot of dramas.  If you are really determined to go on full hiatus, you can install a site blocker on your internet browser to prevent you from accessing drama sites.  Another option is to have someone else hold you accountable for good measure.  Ask someone to remind you about your hiatus if they notice you watching a lot of dramas again.

Determine when to end your hiatus.

If you’re going on a full hiatus for a definite period of time, it’s pretty easy to know when you’re going to end your hiatus.  If you’re on hiatus indefinitely, it may be harder to know when to end it.  Some people may be going through a lot of transitions or challenges in their life.  In this case, one may end the hiatus once the “storm has passed” and things quiet down.  Some people may be going on hiatus to stop being so attached to dramas.  In this case, one could end the hiatus when one notices that their need for dramas has decreased significantly.


My experience with going on hiatus

In my 2015 reflection post, I wrote:

What was the most important lesson you learned from 2015 dramas?

I never went on a hiatus until this year.  I reached a point when I was just too busy to manage with blogging, watching dramas, and doing other drama stuff along with taking care of myself.  I was over-committed which only resulted in stress.  So I finally took the plunge and declared hiatus–twice.  I knew that it was the best decision to make for myself; denying it and just blindly going at a fast pace would do me no good.  For me the benefit was not that I immediately abstained from dramas or blogging–which some people on hiatus do–but that I took a step back.  I distanced myself so that I could have the space I needed in my life to relax and focus on other things.

The lesson I got out of this experience: When you’re overwhelmed, over-committed or overly stressed, the first step to take is to just take a step back.  If you already know the best decision you can make for YOU, then do it.  Self-care is important, and sometimes watching dramas is not self-care.”

I went on an indefinite semi-hiatus last year and a little into the beginning of this year.  I knew that I was spending way too much time online.  Even if I wasn’t watching a drama, I’d still be looking at random drama clips, searching for other dramas to watch, going on social media, etc.  I was just sorta meandering around on the Internet.  It wasn’t productive at all.

As you can probably already tell, these activities enabled me to procrastinate.  I know us procrastinators all joke about how we’re procrastinators, but to be honest, the feeling I get from procrastination is just plain icky.  I feel horrible whenever I procrastinate.  On top of that, I had school commitments that were way more important than all the unproductive web-surfing I was doing.  I had to re-prioritize by setting dramas on a lower priority level, and putting school at the top of my list.

Lastly, I started feeling the need / obligation to do drama-stuff.  I felt like I had to check my notifications/comments, like I had to watch that one drama clip, etc.  These feelings were a big warning sign for me.  In my opinion, watching dramas should not be about needing them or having to watch them.  Watching dramas should be about wanting to watch them–without feelings of obligation or procrastination!

While I did not totally conquer procrastination during my semi-hiatus, I was able to practice not needing dramas.  Prior to this, I thought that going on hiatus was mainly just to give yourself time to work hard (like studying).  But actually, going on hiatus also gave myself time to enjoy myself in other ways.  For instance, I was able to go on walks more often, enjoy nature, and READ. (<<such a biggie!)  Ultimately, I’m glad that I tried out a semi-hiatus.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever go for a full hiatus, only time will tell!


Have you ever gone on hiatus before?  What was your experience like?

Read more from the Drama Detox Series:

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • Don’t think there is enough drama bloggers to count who is active. You’re still here but we can see about only 5 cdrama bloggers. Are there enough cdramas in eng sub or good dramas for fans to blog?

    • Hi, last year some new c-drama bloggers emerged. Skimmed Milk Drama and Cdramadevotee blog about c-dramas. So I think c-drama bloggers are still surviving! Also, last year the amount of subbed c-dramas increased.

      • Hi! Please checkout my blog. I’m blogging about Chinese dramas, films and food. I’m a veteran c-drama follower who recently decided to blog about dramas too. There are some c-drama gems out there that never really got much love bec there’s no big celebrity names like Cecilia in the cast. thus, it’s hard to find their subtitled version in sites like Viki. I blog to tell people about them.

    • Sadly. there isnt enough of the content that is subbed which limits people from enjoying good c-drama content. Please check out my blog (on Chinese language dramas, films and food )and feel free to share your feedback. bingetherapy.com

  • I took an official ‘full hiatus’ for almost half of last year to concentrate on my final exams. It was bad. I stopped watching drama but I was still on the blog, catching up with news and blogging about variety shows. My object of procrastination simply changed from dramas to variety shows. And because I “couldn’t” drama, I started to obsessively read drama blogs to find out what I’m missing out on. Horrible, horrible experience.

    This year, I didn’t plan on any breaks. But after settling down to my 3 months internship, I found out that all my focus and effort went into work and I didn’t even have time to read my wordpress reader, much less watch dramas. And I went for an unintended break for 3 months just like that. No struggles, nothing.

    Such an irony.

    • It’s interesting how drastically different your two experiences were. o_o I think that is a very big difficulty with going on hiatus–we may end up just replacing dramas with something else. And it may instead increase our obsession because we are withholding dramas from ourselves. It sounds like our priorities can naturally shift when we literally don’t have time to spend on other things.

  • I gave up dramas for Lent one year, when I realized that watching dramas was taking over my life. It was a really tough experience, especially since I also restricted myself from even rewatching drama clips, but I’m grateful because it showed me that I have control over my drama watching, rather than having it control me.

    I can also relate to what you said about being able to enjoy myself in other ways. I’ve been able to read a lot more now that I’m no longer worried about finishing a drama during its broadcast period, and I’m more at ease about going out with friends last-minute instead of insisting on staying home to finish the latest episode. There are times when days or weeks go by without me watching something, and I’m totally okay with it.

    • Oo that’s so interesting! I never thought of how Lent could be used for giving up dramas before. And yes, I totally agree about not letting dramas control you. We must be in control of our dramas. It’s similar to the idea ‘own your stuff, don’t let your stuff own you.’

  • I disappear from the drama and blogging world all the time, lol. When blogging and watching dramas starts to be too much like work or I find myself being too anti-social with my family or have important work or personal deadlines to meet, I stop. My grandfather nags at me when he thinks it’s been too long and my uncle picks on me and then I know it’s time for me to step away for awhile.

    I have grown to hate the word “hiatus”. People use it too much. If a magazine has an annual period where they aren’t reading or accepting submissions or publishing, some call it a hiatus. But…that’s a regular period in time where you aren’t, not suspending your normal publication cycle. This then makes me think the mag is going down the tubes until I read the fine print. I find it vexing. There’s also a fan subber who keeps saying hiatus hiatus and within that same week they’ve released what was on “hiatus”. Shakes head.

    I do love these reflective and helpful posts of yours. A lot has been going on for me, so not a lot of posts coming out of AAA these days.

    • Sounds like you’re really good at putting dramas/blogging on pause. It’s good you also have people who can point out when you’re doing dramas too much, heh. What word would you use then? 😛 Is there a certain criteria for a hiatus? I guess people have to stick to the hiatus in order for it to actually be one.

  • Thank you so much for your diligence. A little R&R is good for your health and mind. I truly wish you good health and good luck. Can’t wait for your return and hope you’ll review “Jade Planet” on your return.

  • I can totally relate to this post. Even I’m on a sort of hiatus right now…I nly managed to watch one episode of a recently started drama but dropped it after that. I was busy with exams and before that there were other things like reading, spending time with friends and movies that I wanted to watch from a long time. But I’m gradually coming back as now I have some free time. f course there was a time when all I wanted to do after work was watch dramas…but I’m glad that now I can prioritize things.

  • i feel like the odd one here. i’m pretty selective when it comes to watching dramas – so i never felt it has overtaken my life. I guess also I don’t blog or do social media at all (yes i’m a dinosaur like that) so that saves me lots of time, though i’ll browse a few websites/blogs to catch up with the news. i can hardly find anyone who even blogs about jdorama these days, so I ended up reading on kdramas and recaps, but ended up watching only a few which seem interesting or have actors/actresses i like.

    ok who am i kidding, i’m just a stay-at-home girl with no life. i can’t find enough dramas to watch to keep me occupied. if i were to take a hiatus i think i’ll go crazy with too much time and nothing to do 🙁

    • Hehe you’re actually quite lucky. Procrastinating with dramas or watching too many isn’t very fun. 😛 I hope I can be as selective as you are!

  • The problem is that our desire fot foreign drama (JDrama in my case, which makes me a minority) doesn’t usually change when we decide to stop watching. The real issue is this desire to somehow want to be a part of something that’s so drastically different than our every day experience; that’s our addiction. it just so happens that it manifests itself in this form. If that underlying desire hasn’t changed then we will always return.

    • Hm, that’s a good point. My desire for dramas eventually decreased over time as I went on hiatus. I still wanted to watch dramas, just not as much. But yeah, I think we should go deeper than just the watching dramas to the actual desire that motivates it. I’ll have to think more about this topic.

  • Hah, I’ve taken 1 announced haitus and most recently/currently, a unplanned and unannounced almost year long haitus. Life gets busy – the first time it was my senior year of university and finals/grad apps really took a toll on my time. Plus, I wanted to spend any and all of my free time hanging out with my friends before we all separated. This second/current haitus-break-thing is from moving internationally to grad school in Asia, where ironically I am closer than ever to the dramas I recapped and now I don’t even watch them.

    BUT, I’m slowly starting to trickle dramas back into my life. I might start blogging again too, once my midterms are over haha.

    P.S
    Hey HeiSui! Long time no chat 🙂 Hope you’re doing well

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