WE HAVE A LITTLE CONFESSION TO MAKE HERE. IF YOU HADN’T ALREADY NOTICED, WE HAVE SOMETHING OF A FASCINATION WITH MOVIES.
I know, shocking, right?
The anticipation of the latest trailers, the thrill of a live-action car chase, the shocking plot twists, the soaring film scores… Or perhaps just the prospect of your favourite film heroes battling to save the day? Even just the sight of Dwayne Johnson in a ridiculously perilous situation is enough to get our juices flowing.
Basically, and in our humble opinion, there’s no better way to spend a couple of hours than getting lost in the magic of cinema. And we’d bet a pretty penny there are movie lovers in your workplace, your family and friendship groups who’d agree, too!
But here’s the thing: is there something more meaningful behind the pure enjoyment and spectacle of watching a film? When we hit the cinema to see a movie, we’re mainly there to be entertained. But, just like those stalwarts of toy-based celluloid mayhem the Transformers, is there more to them than meets the eye?
GIVING YOUR MENTAL MUSCLES A WORKOUT
When we think of living healthily, we often think about physical activities that keep us in good shape. Want to work on your physical fitness? Hit the gym and start pumping some iron or head outdoors and get some exercise. Need to lose a little weight? Cut down the booze, ditch the takeaways and stick to the fruit and veg.
However, your physical health is only half the story when we talk about people’s wellbeing. Your mental health is just as important as your physical fitness levels, and flexing your mental muscles regularly plays an essential part of a positive and healthy lifestyle.
But, despite mental wellbeing playing a huge part in having a healthy lifestyle, it still has something of a stigma attached to it. Mental health is something that people will often prefer not to talk about or, worse still, simply ignore altogether.
This is where film and cinema can come into play – and for bigger reasons than you might expect.
CINEMA HELPS FOCUS YOUR THOUGHTS
Let’s imagine for a second that we’re at your local cinema. You’ve taken your seats and are now waiting in anticipation for the trailers and opening credits to roll. Your phone’s off, everyone has finished their conversations and all your attention is focused on one thing: yup, you guessed it – that big screen in front of you.
Cinema is one of the very few forms of entertainment that commands your complete and undivided attention. With no distractions, no interruptions, no ad breaks, no interference – for at least a couple of hours, you’re focused on just the one moment.
This act of focusing on just the one moment draws some similarities with the process of mindfulness. This is a type of mental state that involves allowing your thoughts to arrive naturally and involves all your senses – something which cinema is pretty good at doing. Be it through the visuals on screen, the sounds you hear, the emotions you feel or even just the smell of the popcorn!
And it’s not just the process of watching the film which draws on mindfulness. There’s also the time you might spend talking about the film; what you liked, what you disliked, what your opinions on it were. All these thoughts have formed because you’ve spent the past couple of hours being engrossed and captivated without distractions from the outside world.
For a couple of hours, nothing else matters anymore. In today’s forever switched-on world, the ability to turn off all life’s daily distractions is something many people who are feeling stressed out desperately need.
A MOVIE HELPS STIMULATE THE BODY AND MIND
If you’ve ever seen such cinematic brain twisters as Donnie Darko, Memento or Predestination, you’ll know that just the act of watching a film can really stimulate the old grey matter. They can provoke thoughts, spark debate or even just get you thinking intently about the stories being told on-screen; but it’s not just the narratively-challenging movies which can help fire up the brain cells.
Take a film you might have seen when you were a kid; The Goonies or The Lion King, for example. These types of films can spark warm memories of the past or highlight feelings of nostalgia – as well as simply being a reminder of the fun and enjoyment films can bring, too.
And films are not just mentally stimulating, either.
The act of laughing during a funny film helps to relax the body and can help relieve physical and mental stress. Laughter releases endorphins – a type of chemical produced by the brain that helps you to feel more relaxed and well – and decreases stress hormone production. There is also evidence to show that laughter can actually help boost your immune system and even protect your heart. This just goes to show that sometimes, laughter can really be the best medicine.
A TRIP TO THE CINEMA IS PURE ESCAPISM
At the most very basic level, paying a visit to your local cinema is a great way to take a break from the normal 9-5 routine. It’s a few hours in the week where the strains of work or your personal life simply don’t apply, giving your mind a break from the demands upon it and a great way to relieve stress and tension. In short, seeing a film is a great way to boost positive feelings. This in turn, can also influence positive behaviours and mentality, too.
Regardless of the film you choose to see, visiting the cinema can be a hugely rewarding experience that everyone can enjoy. Be it on your own so you become totally engrossed in the story on screen, or if you’re celebrating success with your work colleagues – cinema offers an escape from the real world that is simply unmatched!
Now, it’s important to mention at this stage that whilst cinema is a great way to keep stress and mental wellbeing in check, it’s important to seek help or advice if you’re feeling that stress is starting to overwhelm you.
Talk to your friends, family or your manager at work – don’t stay silent! If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your friends, family or colleagues, seek professional help or talk to your GP.