Movie watchers can use the power of the big screen to help reduce stress, but only with movies from certain genres.
Comedies are great options for many, as laughing has been scientifically proven to reduce stress. “Whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke,” wrote the Mayo Clinic.
If you’re looking for some comedic options, here is a nice list of 20 light-hearted movies that’ll make you smile.
Romance films are another good option, as they help to calm us down and forget about our daily troubles. “Mistakes the characters make are portrayed in a humorous, uplifting and forgiving manner. This may give you a different perspective on your problems,” psychologist Birgit Wolz told the Chicago Tribune.
Adventure and travel-based movies can give us a look into a whole new experience, especially on sunny tropical islands or in epic landscapes, like Iceland. These types of movies allow us to escape reality for a couple of hours and take in more of our world without having to physically be there.
And believe it or not, even horror can relax some of us. Though counterintuitive, being scared and escaping to a frightening or supernatural world can be calming.
“For some anxious people, escaping into a compelling story is a way to better manage real-life anxiety. Whether they use the content as a distraction or as a way to gain ideas about mastery, these viewers purposefully seek out anxiety-provoking content,” Dr. Janet Scarborough Civitelli, who holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, told Syfy.
“For horror fans, it can also be a way to release pent-up feelings in a controlled environment. In one Reddit thread on the subject, a horror film fan shared that it can be a way to put their own problems in perspective,” wrote Monica Torres on Ladders. “There is something relaxing about forgetting your own daily fears and being fully emerged in other people’s fears and horrors,” the redditor wrote.
The best movies to watch when stressed are those that get you away, at least mentally, from your current struggles.
“Unlike reading, watching movies gives the viewer the option to absorb a story complemented by music to intensify the emotion or movement of the plot and it comes with the ease of seeing the characters’ faces and hearing their voices make meaning of the words,” Margaret Wehrengerg, who has a Ph.D. in Psychology, wrote in Psychology Today.
“The power of film is also in its intent. You can derive great benefit from comedy: no matter what tickles your funny bone, laughing is good medicine for depression.”