The therapeutic power of movies to calm anxiety.
Sleep eluded me last night as I tossed and turned.
Worries of the virus, extremism, terrorism, and civil war troubling my dreams and majorly inducing my anxiety.
We are living in a dystopian nightmare, and the uncertainty of the coming months is too much to bear.
So I’m thinking we talk movies instead. Sound good to you?
Not just any movies. Your favorite movies.
The greats, the classics, your favorites.
The ones you watched as a kid in your jammies. With a blanket on the floor and a bowl of cereal, kind of movies.
Okay, that might be specific to me, but you get the idea.
Movies can take us somewhere. Not just to the location of the story, they take us back to a moment in time. Back to the first moment we fell in love with that story.
Because it’s not just about the movie, is it?
It’s about the grandma that brought you to that air-conditioned movie in a heatwave.
It’s about that family vacation to Rhode Island. When your parents let you and your brother see Vacation, an R-rated movie, and that is the only thing you ended up telling anyone about.
It’s the first movie you were allowed to see with your friends. Your mom dropping you off in front of the theater and picking you up again when the movie ended.
Your first movie with a date. Super awkward and uncomfortable, you hardly remember the movie you were so nervous.
Our memories of each movie end up being more about the people you watched with, the old movie theaters or drive-ins, picking out the rentals at Blockbusters on a Friday night.
Those memories became the basis for the joy you feel when you watch your favorite movie.
Movies have a special ability to bring us back to a certain moment in our development. To bring back the cringe of the teen years, to remind of the freedoms of childhood. The agony of first love.
There is a movie to fit every situation and every mood.
So, if you feel like I do about the state of the world, escape into a time when life felt simple and easy. When your biggest problem was a pimple or that you tripped in front of your crush.
Remnants of a past life that looks simpler from where we now stand.
Show yourself some love by providing self-care.
Get on that couch and find your favorite movie!
The therapeutic and calming effects of movies.
Watching movies is good for our health.
I was doubtful too.
I mean, I usually feel guilty when I watch movies all day. Like I should have done something more productive with my time.
But experts agree, movies offer therapeutic and calming effects.
Movies mimic the emotional process offering practice for those not good at demonstrating their feelings. It’s sort of a how-to for people uncomfortable with their emotions.
They can use the character’s experiences to understand how emotions might affect others.
For this reason, many therapists incorporate film into patient’s therapy plans. They are using film to get clients to process emotions healthily.
Expert Gary Solomon explains:
“Movies are a true example of how art imitates life. To begin the journey, all you need to do is to identify those movies that apply to your individual life problem or those that will help you to self-nurture and grow. The movies will help you experience healing yourself and/or supporting family members and friends along their own healing path.”
In much the same way as literature has taught empathy to swathes of schoolchildren for centuries, movies can help a generation of anxious people navigate relationships in a quickly changing world.
James Hickey puts it this way:
“The goal of using motion pictures on tape to pass along standards of meaningful coping is quite basic. Films package situations and strategies in narratives that can become the basis for discussion before, during, and after the viewing. They encourage a vicarious but vivid experience that engages more of the senses than mere talk or reading.”
“Visualization is more important than knowledge.”
Cinema also offers a spin on the popular visualization technique. Visualization has been hailed as a way to be successful. You set a specific goal, imagine yourself attaining the said goal, and take steps towards attainment.
- Step 1: Know what you want.
- Step 2: Describe your vision in detail.
- Step 3: Start visualizing and create emotions.
- Step 4: Take daily actions.
- Step 5: Have grit and persevere.
Movies can help us to visualize what life goals could look like. Movies are so critical to goal setting for those of us not exposed to travel or different experiences at a young age.
They can help us to dream bigger and to set goals that we couldn’t before imagine.
This is also why it’s important to have many different types of people as role models in movies. It’s crucial to have role models for all races, gender, sexuality, every type of person. These role models need to occupy different roles and positions of power in films so that youth can see the possibilities that this world has to offer.
Your self-care plan for today.
Sitting around watching your favorite movies all day isn’t lazy, it’s therapy. You are important, and you should start being kind to yourself today.
Take it from the experts. Movies are therapy. If there was ever a need for therapy, it is right now. We need a break. We need some relief from the constant anxiety. We need movies.
Treat yourself to some self-care, make a bowl of popcorn, order some takeout, and settle in for a movie day. I wish you well on your path down memory lane.
I, myself, will be spending the rest of my day back in the 1990s. I want to feel young and cute and have very few responsibilities.
I’ll be watching Clueless.
“I know it sounds mental, but sometimes I have more fun vegging out than when I go partying.” --Cher.