5 reasons watching movies is actually good for you
Remember when your parents told you you’d go square-eyed if you watched too much TV?
Well, they’re wrong (kinda). Watching a movie is actually pretty good for you. Here’s why!
Laughter is the best medicine… and so is crying
The American author Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.”
It turns out Kurt was onto something. According to some scientists, laughter can boost your immune system and decrease the hormones associated with stress too.
One study by the University of Maryland looked at the effects of comedy movies specifically. The researchers found that laughing at the film shown caused the subjects’ blood vessels to dilate by 22%, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress.
Sad films can have a positive effect on your brain chemistry too. Research from Oxford University suggests that watching a traumatic film boosts the production of endorphins, a chemical associated with increased pain tolerance and, ironically, feeling good.
Movies can help on a psychological level too, to the extent that some therapists now prescribe movies as a form of treatment. Practitioners of cinema therapy suggest watching a movie that mirrors your current worries – like Forgetting Sarah Marshall if you’ve just broken up with someone or Predator if you’re dealing with an indestructible killer from space – can shift your perspective on your problems and help you deal with them better.
Rewatching movies is good for you
A 2012 study found that rewatching a movie is relaxing because our brains find them easy to process and the predictability is comforting. Remember that the next time someone questions you watching Robocop for the 200th time.
The nostalgia evoked by rewatching your favourite movie can have positive effects too. Nostalgia is often associated with wistfulness and melancholy, but recent research suggests it promotes a positive outlook, boosts self-esteem and improves our connection with friends and family.
They can inspire you to be a better person
Movies have a major effect on real life, whether we realise it or not. Take Sideways, for example; Paul Giamatti’s character spends most of the movie dissing Merlot and talking up Pinot Noir and, lo and behold, Pinot Noir sales increased by 16% after the film’s release.
They can also have a major effect on our personal development too. In America, The Karate Kid caused a full on karate boom, while Rocky has inspired countless people to take up boxing. It’s not just sports either; The Dude from The Big Lebowski has inspired a movement dedicated entirely to taking it easy.
In short, watching a movie can inspire you to make positive changes in your life – even if it’s only a small change!
They make you smarter
… although that obviously depends on which film you watch! But a good documentary or an intelligent historical drama can educate you on important issues and events in a much more interesting and enjoyable way than a dry old textbook.
Movies can make you more emotionally intelligent too. The legendary film critic Roger Ebert once described movies as “…like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams, and fears.” Watching films can change our perspective on the people and issues we encounter every day, as well as increasing our understanding and sensitivity to people and issues in places we may never visit.
No matter who you are or what you do, sometimes you just need to get away from everything for a while. And what better way to do that than to watch a schmaltzy movie with two impossibly beautiful people falling in love, or a fantasy epic with elves duking it out against orcs?!
Here are the five main reasons watching movies is good for you:
- Laughter is the best medicine (and so is crying)
- Rewatching movies is comforting and promotes a positive outlook
- They can inspire you to be a better person
- They make you smarter
- Escapism is necessary
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