Am I Blue?: Why Turning to TV and Movies to Get Your Feels is Good for You. By Frankie Wallace.
Let’s face it: Life can be tough. In this increasingly interconnected digital world, people are feeling more isolated than ever, with the most digitally connected generation, Generation Z, also turning out to be the loneliest and most stressed. The fact is that mental illness is a pervasive problem in the United States and around the world, with, for example, an estimated 26% of all Americans suffering from significant depression. Despite the prevalence of mental illness, many sufferers feel alone, isolated, and misunderstood because of feelings they may not be able to adequately express or explain.
This is where the turning power of art shines brightest. Films and television, books, and music, all can tell the stories that too many of us feel we’re living out all alone, reminding us that we’re not by ourselves after all. Media can help us see ourselves in our best and our worst moments. They can remind us that there are those who understand and those who have survived. They can even just serve as a happy distraction, providing a needed pick-me-up when we’re feeling blue.
A Delightful Dysfunction
One of the best things about movies and television shows is that you get to live the hero’s dysfunction without actually suffering it yourself. Take the 2004 Mike Mitchell comedy, Surviving Christmas,for example. While critics largely dismissed the dramady, fans appreciate something the critics missed: a gritty truth to play against all the idyllic images of home and family at Christmastime. When the holidays roll around and you’re surrounded by all these magical scenes manufactured by greeting card companies and big box stores in an effort to sell a fantasy, it can be strangely comforting to find some semblance of your own family’s dysfunction reflected back to you from your television screen.
Finding Friends Again
Of course, turning to movies and TV for a taste of sweet turmoil isn’t the only way to get a pick-me-up. If you’re feeling lonely or a little bit blue, there’s nothing like light viewing to get your mind off your troubles. Revisiting old familiar television shows or losing yourself in a great sitcom can be like reuniting with old friends again. You might find yourself turning to old shows you loved as a child or giving one of today’s many reboots a chance. Or you might simply follow the latest buzz to find a new treasure. The options are virtually endless.
In 2019 Marie Kondo entered homes everywhere via our television sets and taught us the beauty of asking ‘does this spark joy?’ Although purging our belongings isn’t the typical example people think of when considering self care, it is absolutely a component.
Further back, Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear taught us the benefit of self care for not just our wardrobes and physical appearance, but emphasized through the makeover portion of the show that fresh hair and skin products that suits us individually can change the way we, and how others see us.
There are more ways than ever to practice self care, finding the right balance for yourself, and making sure you’re not taking the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach is going to be important, you don’t want to have to declutter your self care routine the way you purge your closet.
Self care can encompass:
- Time for yourself: Yes, this includes binging on Netflix or watching episodes of The Bachelor, if that’s what makes your happy. It could also mean taking time each day for quiet reflection or a dedicated activity.
- Loving your body: You can show love for your own body through exercise absolutely, but that is not the only way to show your body some lovin. How you take care of your biggest organ, your skin, is important to your overall health. Netflix’s Queer Eyediscusses ways to learn to care for your skin, treat painful dermatological conditions, or restore your youthful, healthy, and happy glow! Self-care does not always mean spending money on pricey products, but when it comes to our skin and body, moisturizing with healthy ingredients like CBD, washing regularly, and grooming are important to your general health and self-esteem.
- Taking care of your insides: Our appearance and how we choose to spend our time are important components of self care, but we need to be equally mindful of our mental health. Meditation, journaling, or even discussing how your favorite shows and movies make you feel, causing you to reflect on your emotions, are health expressions for our mental wellbeing.
A Bridge to the Outside World
Humans are social animals. Loneliness and isolation, according to recent studies, are as dangerous to your physical health as chronic smoking. Media, no matter how uplifting or engaging, simply cannot take the place of real human interaction. But it can be a tremendous help. It can give you the motivation you need to actually feel like turning with the outside world. It can lift your spirits enough to make the thought of getting out into the real world not so intimidating or exhausting. And it can remind you that no matter how weird, screwed up, or out of place you and your family may seem, we’re all misfits in some way.
So why not take that laugh that Chandler Bing gave you, or that tear that Nora Ephron pulled from you, and use it to build a connection, to start a conversation, to get out of your house and out of your head for a while?
Life is hard. None of us are getting out of it alive. But that doesn’t mean we have to struggle through our days in loneliness and sadness. We have an entire world at our fingertips. We have familiar old friends to revisit, old gags to make us laugh again, and old stories to lose ourselves in. We have comedy to distract us from our troubles, drama to remind us we’re not alone, and rom-coms and fantasy to remind us to dream. And when we have taken this great gift that film and television can give us, lifting our spirits and clearing the fog of sadness, lethargy, and loneliness, we can use it to rejoin the world again.
Once we have used the media to take care of ourselves, to find a bit of rest, understanding, and pleasure, we can carry that with us into our care for others. We can use these brilliantly crafted virtual worlds to help us reenter, reimagine, and reinvigorate our own.
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