Movies tell a story. They might offer you the escape you need when stress has taken over your life. You can lose yourself in someone else’s love story, a thriller, or a drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat. If you’re looking for laughter, many movies can keep you giggle for a few hours. No matter what your favorite genre might be, sitting down to watch a film is a great way to let go of the worries of the world and reduce your stress levels. 

Before we explore a few movies you should put in the queue, here is some essential information about stress and why movies are a good option when life gets overwhelming. 

Understanding Stress

Everyone has stress. In fact, without a little pressure, you wouldn’t be prepared to handle what life throws at you. However, the physical effects of stress can be all-consuming and even dangerous for your health. More than half of women and 43 percent of men in the U.S. experience side effects of too much stress in their lives. While you need a little stress to motivate you, too much can have grave consequences on your overall well-being. 

If you struggle with long-term stress, you might notice physical symptoms such as upset stomach, a change in appetite, difficulty sleeping, or changes in your moods. Out-of-control stress can cause chronic conditions like heart disease, depression, and generalized anxiety disorder to worsen.

Controlling Stress

Luckily, most types of stress can be managed with a few simple lifestyle changes. Try one or more of these simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety:

  • Meditation is a set of practices that help you connect your mind and body. There are several types of mediation, and you can do most of them just about anywhere. Find a quiet spot outside to meditate and connect with the world around you or find a peaceful place indoors. 

  • Exercise isn’t only good for your body — staying active decreases the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, in your system. With less cortisol coursing through your veins, you’ll feel more relaxed.

  • Aromatherapy can soothe stress and anxiety. Try using essential oils or burning a scented candle. A few scents to try include lavender, geranium, rose, or ylang-ylang.

  • Laughter can elevate your mood, reduce stress, and relax your muscles. What better way is there to laugh than with a good movie?

Science Behind Movies 

We’ve all been there: You come home from a stressful day at the office, put on your PJs, and crash on the couch with a movie. Your goal is just to let go and veg for a few hours. However, you might be doing more for your wellness that you realize.

Watching movies can benefit your mental health. Watching movies that mirror your own struggles can provide an emotional release and actually help you process your feelings. You might also notice that sad movies can lift your mood. When you see the tragedy that others go through, even on the screen, it makes you realize that your life isn’t that bad. A movie can help you make sense of our own trials and put everything into perspective. 

Here are a few of the best movies to stream when your feeling stressed:

Love Actually

If you haven’t seen this 2003 movie about the lives of eight couples dealing with various relationship issues, you really need to fire it up the next time you’re feeling a little tense. Set during the month before Christmas, “Love Actually” details the frantic lives of these couples and shows their journey towards true love and happiness. If the storyline isn’t enough to get you searching, the all-star cast might; Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, and Keira Knightley bring the characters to life in a way only they can.

Up

Okay, you might not think that watching an animated film without the kids is cool. However, if you’re looking for adventure, love, and a few laughs, “Up” is a go-to selection. Oh, and who can forget the goofy, but loveable talking dog who will have you yelling “squirrel!” for weeks to come?

The Blind Side

If you’re looking for a movie based on a true story that’s sure to elevate your spirits, you can’t go wrong with “The Blind Side.” This story chronicles the life of football player Michael Oher and the woman who ended up being the champion he didn’t know he needed. Sandra Bullock portrays the adoptive mother of Oher. Her performance will leave you remembering the value of generosity and love, even when undergoing your own sources of stress. 

Shawshank Redemption

This 1994 film stars Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins as prisoners in a gloomy jailhouse known as Shawshank. Robbins plays a successful banker who is sent to jail for two murders he didn’t commit. During his time in the clink, he befriends many fellow prisoners, but the most notable is Red, played by Morgan Freeman. “Shawshank Redemption” will give you hope for a better tomorrow.

Legally Blonde

Looking for a light-hearted comedy to lift your spirits and make you laugh? The classic comedy-romance film “Legally Blonde” was released in 2001 and stars Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, and Luke Wilson. Reese plays Elle Woods, a sorority queen who is obsessed with fashion. Elle is dumped by her boyfriend but decides to follow him to law school. As she embarks on this journey, she realizes she is more than just a pretty face and learns how to fight for her life and love. 

No Medication Required

If you’re feeling a little stressed and need a pick-me-up, jot down these four titles. Spend some downtime on the couch connecting to great actors and moving storylines to boost your spirits. The best part is that you don’t even need to pop a pill to feel better.

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