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Read, Watch, and Listen: The Marriage of Pop Culture and Better Mental Health

Read, Watch, and Listen The Marriage of Pop Culture and Better Mental Health

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Marriage of Pop Culture and Better Mental Health

Entertainment and pop culture can be good for mental health. Whether young or old, single or in a marriage or other relationship, engaging in cultural interests with others or alone can be a positive, mood-lifting experience.

Get Book Smart: Read for Strong Mental Health

  • Research shows that—along with enjoying their books, comic books, magazines, or newspapers—readers may benefit from many physical and mental health perks that come from the act of reading. For instance, reading can help lower blood pressure and aid in stress-management.
  • Human connections can be strengthened by reading. Reading can help with the development of empathy: the ability to recognize, understand, and share how others are feeling. Empathy is important for developing relationships with others and alleviating feelings of isolation. Having positive connections with others is a protective factor for mental well-being.
  • Reading can help with sleep. Because reading can be a relaxing activity, it is a traditional nighttime activity that can calm us and help to fall asleep and stay asleep. Restorative, regular sleep patterns can strengthen mental health and help us be equipped to regulate moods and emotions.
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Watch It: TV and Film Can Be Mental Health Boosters

  • Watching the big or small screen can be, quite simply, fun. Engaging in shows can give us a sense of pleasure and even boost dopamine levels—the “feel-good” and “pleasure” chemicals our bodies release.
  • Movies and TV shows can offer us a healthy emotional release. While watching, consider the range of emotions you may feel. Laughter and tears can both be cathartic and healthy.
  • Pop culture can help us see different perspectives and consider diverse points of view, which can help us in our relationships and in decision-making.
  • Watching characters can help us learn about ourselves, increase our feelings of empathy, see consequences of actions, and consider various ways of problem-solving.

See Clearly: Visual Arts Can Strengthen Mental Health

  • As either a creator, a consumer of art, or an art appreciator, visual arts can be a means to non-verbally express thoughts and feelings.
  • Creating or being completely immersed in art is sometimes known as being in the flow. It is an optimal experience of being so engaged in a task that your mind is completely immersed and open to what you’re doing, as opposed to being distracted by circumstances of surroundings. You can “lose yourself” in what you’re doing, which can help you find joy and can be a welcome distraction from worries or a break from troubling thoughts.
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Listen Up: Music for Mental Health

  • According to research, music can boost mood.
  • Music can also reduce stress and help decrease anxiety and feelings of depression.
  • Music may jog feel-good memories.
  • Music can trigger dopamine—the pleasure chemical—in the brain, as well as oxytocin—the “love” hormone.
  • Music can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Whether listening to music or creating music, the action can help mental health.

An Overview: Evidence that Reading, Watching, and Listening Can Strengthen Mental Wellness

  • According to research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) there is evidence that engaging in the arts can enhance mental health.
  • For example, engaging in culture can give us a healthy outlet for emotions and prompt emotional regulation.
  • Coping skills can be strengthened by seeing examples of the ways others cope and by feeling more emotionally fit to practice new skills.
  • Strengthening social skills and relationships can be helpful for mental health. Feeling the support of others and sharing common cultural interests can reduce feelings of isolation and improve social behaviors.
  • Engagement in healthy cultural interests and behaviors can give us outlets for creativity and connections through which we may be able to live life more fully.

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Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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