This is a snippet from an article I read on yogajournal.com
"The majority of Americans are doing what I call default relaxation activities, which yield lower levels of process benefits," says author Schor, who's also a professor of sociology at Boston College. Process benefits are the pastimes correlated with higher levels of human satisfaction. "Watching TV and shopping, for example, are shown to have low process benefits," Schor says. Mathur, the meditation teacher, says, "In modern society, when we say we're tired, we usually mean our mind is tired." Often, though, we fail to listen up and give it a rest. Instead, we hunker down on the couch with the remote in hand. "With TV, you're adding input rather than clearing out or cleansing. In a way, your mind is going to be even more tired when you're done."
Liz Newby-Fraser, academic dean at the California Institute for Human Science, explains this in physiological terms. "Watching two hours of television is not relaxation. With TV, there are stimuli that activate the sympathetic nervous system, rather than the parasympathetic, which is associated with real rest."
The medical case for deliberate relaxation has gained prominence in recent years. Americans might not demand longer or more frequent vacations just to have fun, but our ears do prick up at health warnings. According to the National Ag Safety Database, a repository of agricultural health, safety, and injury prevention materials funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, "Medical research estimates as much as 90 percent of illness and disease is stress-related." And there's no shortage of studies linking psychological stress to heart trouble.
In 2003, for example, it was reported at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions (four days of lectures and investigative presentations) that the number of heart attacks in a Brooklyn hospital rose dramatically during the two months after September 11. And Joe Robinson, founder of the Work to Live Campaign, has written that taking an annual vacation reduces the risk of heart attack by 30 percent for men and 50 percent for women.