We usually watch movies when we’re feeling bored, or if a friend comes over and we have nothing to do. But movies, at least the exceptional and gripping ones, can do more than appease boredom. In fact, some can even boost your mental health, or enhance your spirituality.
Any comedy or romantic movie may seem good for your mental health, with its engaging scenes and banter, but sometimes, you need something beyond a good laugh and a fluttering heart. And these movies give you just that:
1. Terms of Endearment
Terms of Endearment won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1984. Its main characters, Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger, both won Oscars as well. But the movie’s and the casts’ accomplishments aren’t the things that make this movie special.
This movie explores the story of Aurora, a widowed mother to Emma, with whom she has a tempestuous relationship. They have a falling out when Emma marries Flap against her mother’s wishes. But Emma eventually returns home after having three kids, tired of her husband’s philandering ways. Aurora, meanwhile, develops a relationship with a former astronaut, Breedlove. Soon, Emma contracts terminal cancer.
From that synopsis alone, you can already tell that this movie is a tearjerker. Terms of Endearment teaches us that life can bring unbearable sorrows, but connecting and reaching out to our loved ones make it worth it.
2. Silver Linings Playbook
This movie tackles mental health while also aiming to improve your mental health. Silver Linings Playbook follows the story of Pat, the man with a broken marriage and a job he lost due to his untreated bipolar disorder. After being released from the mental hospital, Pat meets Tiffany, a widow who also suffers from a mental issue. Silver Linings Playbook teaches us that mental illness doesn’t define a person and that its sufferers can still find love, strength within themselves, and the realization that “it’s okay not to be okay.”
3. Brain on Fire
Brain on Fire is based on the true story of Susannah Cahalan, and an adaptation of the book of the same title. Cahalan is a young writer who struggled with a rare neurological disorder. The movie portrays her experiences as she suffers horrific symptoms, which include behavioral issues, violence, and catatonia. It takes several misdiagnoses before the actual cause of her illness is identified. A doctor’s last-minute intervention allows Cahalan to rebuild her life.
The movie may not have the best reviews, but it still served as an eye-opener for rare neurological diseases that often get misdiagnosed. It also represents people who are suffering from uncommon diseases. It has made them feel more understood and included. Not to mention it gave them the hope for recovery and starting anew.
4. Finding Normal
If your type of romance is one where spirituality is heavily involved, Finding Normal should be on your watch list. It follows the story of Dr. Lisa Leland, whose dream wedding is hindered by the long-distance drive from Los Angeles to New York. On her way to her big day, she finds herself in a run-in with the law outside of Normal. She was given two choices: to serve jail time or render community service.
Dr. Lisa Leland chooses the three-day prison sentence, in which she also serves as the prison’s doctor. There, she meets a man who turns her world upside-down.
It’s mostly a lighthearted movie, but it focuses on Dr. Leland’s discoveries about herself and what a meaningful life is about. You can watch it with your family and obtain valuable lessons from it.
5. Different Drummers
Speaking of family movies, you should also let your kids watch Different Drummers. It’s a children’s dramatic movie about David, a wheelchair-bound boy suffering from muscular dystrophy. He predicts the death of his fourth-grade teacher. Lyle, doubtful of David’s prediction, decides to test whether God truly exists, and attempts to get David running again.
Different Drummers is a great movie to introduce Christianity to your children and to explain what it means to be a Christian. It’s best enjoyed on the holidays, particularly on Christmas, where the spirit of Christianity should reign.
Christian movies also have mental health benefits. In addition to teaching the Bible and God’s love, it also teaches about Christian mindfulness. Such is a sense of self and empowerment that connects you to others and to nature, rather than just to yourself. Christian mindfulness also promotes spiritual expression through art, poetry, or religious practice.
Next time you feel blue, dejected, hopeless, or lonely, turn to these movies, and they’d feel like a companion. Stories that show the value of love, kindness, friendships, and faith are what we need to see more beauty in this world. We’ve already had enough of satirical movies that may make you laugh, but don’t teach any valuable lesson at all.