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Movie Therapy for Recession Stress

By Debbie Mandel

This year’s Oscar contenders had a golden thread connecting their diverse themes, cultures and settings which lifted the audience out of a “dark knight”- HOPE. The message: a slumdog can rise from rags to riches to live with a soul mate; from whatever point of time you live your life, you can experience love and dignity; you can fail and lose many times and then when the timing is right, you give wings to your dreams; you can be flexible and change your dreams if they no longer work for you; everyone has the power to leave a lasting legacy; moreover, no one is above the truth. During the recession Hollywood is doing great offering inexpensive, quick and effective therapy.

Movies are traditionally a form of escapism providing an intermission for a negative mindset, a worry loop. Anonymously, without the stigma of seeing a shrink, you get to watch the main character wrestle with his or her problems, go through a dark tunnel of the mind and then see the light to emerge as a hero. Not all endings are happy, but the character who tries to turn stress into strength inspires you to do the same. You see your problems objectified and played out - all for about $10.00
  • You can learn from the hero: How does he do it?
  • You can be inspired by the hero: I can do it too.
  • You can cry with the hero: I have been suppressed for too long
  • You can step back from the narrow context of your life to see the big picture: Life is a roller coaster ride, but it is grand.
I can’t wait to see the new movies which will be released during the ensuing weeks of our difficult time period. I hope that you view them with a new perspective to help you see your life struggle more optimistically giving you the energy to cope. So, if you feel too stressed to read self-help books, or novels with psychological themes, the movies can target both your auditory and visual fields simultaneously. The images and powerful dialogue get embedded in your memory for you to recall whenever you need inspiration.

As Scarlett O’Hara said in Gone with the Wind, “After all, tomorrow is another day…”
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: