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Books and shows carers are loving

Caring for a family member or friend can be rewarding, but it can also be emotionally and physically exhausting. And at times, tricky to get a break from. Books and TV can be a great source of comfort, mental respite, and positivity that we can fit around our busy routines.

Illustration of carer relaxing

In the daily responsibilities and challenges of caring, finding a moment of ‘us time’ can feel tricky. Picking up a good book, or flopping down in front of our favourite TV show can offer a moment to just relax. A mini holiday for our brain.

Books and shows can even help us to process and release our own emotions in a healthy way. Have you ever watched a sad episode of a show, or read a moving chapter in our book, and after a good cry felt so much better? Laughing, crying, or even fear, books and TV can provide an emotional release in a safe and controlled way. 

These simple yet often powerful types of entertainment can provide a chance to step into another world. To take a break from our routine and get a moment to rest. They can also be a great way of claiming back some time just for us.

In this blog we explore why diving into stories, whether on the page or the screen, can be a chance for carers to recharge, and share recommendations of binge-worthy shows or must-read books from our community. 

Worthwhile reads recommended by carers 

Curling up with a book can be a great way of getting a break around our busy schedules. Reading can instantly transport us to a different county, time, or world.

It’s no surprise that so many carers shared that they turn to books to relax. Mindlab International and the University of Sussex worked on a study that took a group of people, raised their heart rates and stress levels, and then measured their levels while they read.

The study showed that reading reduced stress levels by 68%, and that the volunteers’ levels were actually lower than their starting heart rates after reading for only six minutes.

Dr. Louis, who conducted the study, added: “Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.”

But what books did carers in our community share that they are enjoying?

1. Historical romance

Historical romance novels take us to the past. With tales of love, passion, and adventure in historical settings. These novels typically have characters working their way through the expectations of society, class differences, and cultural traditions of the time-period, which adds additional challenges to their relationships. This can make them more appealing for some of us than classic romance novels.

In the Mobilise Moment, several carers mentioned regency novels, which are a subgenre of historical romance novels set during the time of the English Regency, the early 19th century. Goodreads has shared a list of popular regency romance novels.

2. Terry Prattchet books 

Terry Prattchet - Discworld Mapp cover

Terry Pratchett's books are loved by many for their one-of-a-kind mix of humour, satire and storytelling. So it’s not surprising carers shared enjoying them. His best known books are the "Discworld" series.

Pratchett's works are accessible and easy to read, but also highlight real-world issues through the setting of his magical universe.

His novels are known for memorable but relatable characters, that most of us could imagine bumping into during our daily lives. His knack for combining humour, while making important points on society, make his books easy to get stuck into and can feel fulfilling to read.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone cover

3. The Harry Potter series 

While facing some recent controversy, the Harry Potter books are loved by many, and don’t seem to be going anywhere in terms of popularity. 

J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories, richly imagined world, and engaging characters appeal to readers of all ages.

The series also covers engaging themes such as friendship, bravery, love, and the battle between good and evil.

4. Lifestyle and wellbeing books

Lifestyle and wellbeing books can offer helpful insights and nuggets of practical advice for 

our daily lives. These books can help us feel more able to take on healthier habits, improve our wellbeing, and work on a better feeling of balance. It’s no surprise that many carers turn to these in our down time. 

Two specific recommendations were A little bit of Faith by Katie Piper and the Fearne Cotton collection

We can find suggestions for more books that will support us in our caring roles in 11 books every carer should read.

TV shows carers are turning to  

Getting stuck into a good TV series can provide a much-needed break from the stresses of daily life and caring. Diving into the worlds and lives of the characters we’re watching can offer a temporary escape. Some time where personal worries can be set aside. And with access to streaming services the range and quality of shows at our fingertips is only growing.

Finding time for a show can help us to create time to relax, telling our minds that it’s now down time. Because of this, and the release of stored up emotion, when we settle into something we actually want to watch, TV can help our mental health and wellbeing. 

Friends show

1. Comfort shows, such as Friends

Comfort television shows are those familiar series that we turn to time and time again. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve seen an episode before, we enjoy watching them because they provide a calming escape from reality. We know everything will work out in the end.

They also create a sense of familiarity and emotional safety. Whether it's the humour, heartwarming moments, or the relatable characters, these shows can help us to create a cosy safespace where we can unwind and feel safe.

EastEnders cover

2. Soaps, such as Emmerdale or Eastenders

Soap television shows are long-running dramas known for their drama-filled storylines and developed characters, with some soaps running for over a decade.

Many of us enjoy watching them for the plot twists, emotional highs and lows, and relatable life experiences - even if highly dramatised. The drama itself can feel cathartic; watching people behave in a way we never would (but might secretly wish we could).

The long-term running of soaps also creates a sense of familiarity and we connect with and learn to love or hate the characters. 

Planet Earth cover

3. Wildlife shows, such as Planet Earth

Nature documentaries show the incredible world around us. They can take us to other countries from the comfort of our sofa, and blow us away with animals we never imagined existed. They can also remind us of the vast world outside of our caring roles.

Many of us enjoy watching them because they give us a peaceful break from our lives. Helping us to relax and find a sense of wonder again, when we might otherwise be feeling a bit flat.

These shows can also teach us things, giving us that rewarding feeling of learning something new.

Downton Abbey Show

4. Historical dramas, such as Downton Abbey or Poldark 

Carers in our community seem to enjoy watching historical dramas as much as reading them. They transport us to different eras, bringing history to life with rich storytelling and detailed sets and costumes.

These shows offer the perfect mix of education and entertainment, allowing us to explore events and people from the past. The mix of historical fact and engaging stories can pull us into another world.

Dexter Show

5. Crime shows

Many of us enjoy getting stuck into a good thriller or crime show, and this seems to be even more the case for those of us living in quite stressful situations.

Explaining this, Dr Mukherjee said,

“Thrillers employ a lot of elements that excite you. Watching thrillers and true crime, where your mind is employed all the time to figure out what will happen next, or where the story is going, results in a big surge in dopamine.”

Crime shows our community have rated are NCIS,  Murder she wrote, and the surprisingly likeable serial killer - Dexter.

Ted Lasso Show

6. Comedy

Many of us enjoy watching comedy TV series because they can provide a chance to unwind and destress through laughter.

These shows tend to be lighter, and are created to lift our mood, reduce stress, and bring a little more joy into our lives.

Some of the comedy series carers recommended were Gavin & Stacey, Only Fools and Horses, Dad’s Army, Young Sheldon, and the Emmy Award-Winning Ted Lasso.

Other shows our community of carers are enjoying included Casualty, Greys Anatomy, and The Walking Dead.

Other media carers have been loving

Books and TV series aren’t everyone’s go-to, and there are plenty of other options out there. Below are some of the alternatives our carers shared that they go to for some enjoyment in their spare time.

1. The Archers

The Archers is the world's longest-running radio drama. A British radio soap opera that has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 since 1951. Set in a fictional rural village of Ambridge, it follows the lives of the locals, and their everyday activities, relationships, and challenges.

With over seventy years worth of episodes, many fans have grown up with the characters. The show covers real-life issues such as family, social changes, and current events, making it both relevant and engaging. It also depicts a strong community. This can help us to feel more connected and create a sense of belonging.

2. Desert Island discs

Desert Island Discs is a long-running BBC Radio 4 program, where guests come on and share eight music tracks, a book, and an item they would take with them to a desert island.

People enjoy it because it offers a glimpse into the lives and personalities of a wide range of people, from celebrities to public figures. The blend of music, storytelling, and openness makes the show an uplifting favourite for many.“Desert Island Discs is a real fave.” 

3. Watching sports

No matter the sport, football, rugby, pool or others - there are many of us that love nothing more than settling into the sofa to watch it. Sports create a sense of community, belonging, and shared excitement. It can help us feel more connected to other people.

We’ve all seen strangers at the pub cheering together while the footballs on! While it doesn’t feel like it, both the joy of victory, and the pain of defeat can provide a helpful emotional release.

Final thoughts 

As we’ve explored, getting stuck into a book or show can be beneficial. It can feel like a bit of a luxury to get a chance to read, or time to pick what we get to watch on the TV. We might even find ourselves feeling guilty when we do carve out time for it, but we all deserve time just for ourselves, to do the things that really allow us to relax and unwind.  

We should be mindful not to use it to avoid the things going on in our lives. This can lead to trapping us in unhealthy patterns, preventing us from finding solutions to the challenges we are facing.

If we feel we might be using TV or books (or even the classic ‘doom scrolling’ on our phones) to avoid dealing with complex emotions or issues, we might want to consider speaking to someone about what might be going on.

What's next?

Think we’ve missed any good books or shows? Head over to our Mobilise Hub and share your favourite, or current goto, novel or series. Or we might want to join the Mobilise monthly Friday Bring a book club - Just like a book club. But with a Mobilise twist.


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