Watch a Rerun of Friends or an Episode of Jeopardy!?
Better choice: Jeopardy!
When in doubt, test―don't rest―your brain.
"Mindless is clearly OK now and then and can be very restorative," Robert Sapolsky says. "But not to the extent to which the average American vegges out in front of the television."
Your brain, like your body, needs lots of stimulation to stay sharp, focused, and healthy. So make sure it gets regular workouts. You can challenge your brain even while you relax by choosing more stimulating television shows, doing crossword puzzles, or playing mind-teasing games, like chess and Cranium.
But… Constant, intense stimulation can become yet another stressor in your life. "It's not for nothing that roller-coaster rides are not three weeks long," says Sapolsky, who encourages mixing stimulation with a healthy dose of restful downtime.