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Trending Science: Watch holiday films and give your health a gift

There are major health benefits for people who watch Christmas-themed films all year.

Fundamental Research

The countdown to the holiday season is officially on. Seasonal decorations are on display, adverts across all media channels are in full swing, festive songs are everywhere. Soon it will be time for one of our favourite activities. With all the holiday chaos, what can be better than the soothing escapism of classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and Home Alone, or more recent blockbusters such as Love Actually?

A festive film binge in … July? It can do health wonders

According to science, these films can cheer you up throughout the year, not just during the holiday period. They release feel-good hormones, boosting dopamine production in our bodies and making us naturally feel better. Dopamine is the chemical released in our brains that’s responsible for pleasure. As explained in ‘DoYouRemember’: “It does create that neurological shift that can produce happiness. I think anything that takes us out of our normal habituation, the normal day in, day out … signals our senses, and then our senses measure if it’s pleasing or not. Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone.”

Stress busters: the power of the Christmas film

Watching Christmas films also lowers stress and anxiety. In addition, these films strengthen the bond between people because they mostly put emphasis on families and friendship stories that create feelings of nostalgia in viewers. In short, they remind us of the good times. This focus on family values and close bonds can bring people together. And yes, they also help exercise our brains. Most of us watch the same films every year, and we’ll keep doing so. Watching these over and over again will improve memory and stimulate the brain. What we don’t need psychology for is to tell us that these films are positive and full of good vibes. There’s always a happy ending, no matter how bad things are. So the next time you watch a holiday classic, ask yourself: does this staple of the Yuletide offering have to end with the holiday season? Say humbug to putting away your treasured films for another year. You might just stay healthy and live longer. Won’t that be the best ending of all?

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