Watching movies can be beneficial for your mental health and serve as more than just a hobby or pastime.

Watching movies is an activity that has long been regarded as simply a pastime to enjoy when you have a free moment from life’s responsibilities.

While too much screen time can be harmful, engaging in hobbies that balance your work and professional life can be healthy.

Movies can provide several mental health benefits.

Boost mood

If you live with an anxiety disorder or depression, or you’re simply anxious and stressed about work and family commitments, taking time to watch a movie could help improve your mood.

A 2016 review found that enjoying leisure activities such as watching movies could boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression.


Pleasurable distractions and entertainment could provide rest and relaxation and replenishing qualities, according to a 2017 study.

Finding relaxation by watching a movie might be easier than it sounds. It might be a good idea to eliminate unnecessary distractions during the movie.

If you have trouble disconnecting from work or other daily stressors, consider leaving your phone and other devices in another room or on “do not disturb” mode so that you’re interrupted only for urgent matters.

You might find that you’re able to engage your mind with the plot you’re following without distractions, which could make for a more soothing experience.

A musical or romantic comedy, aka rom-com, could be just the distraction you need to relax after a long day.


Watching movies could be motivational in many ways.

Giving your mind a break from work for something enjoyable could motivate you to be more productive when you get back to it and to ward off feelings of burnout.

If the movie highlights someone successfully chasing their ambitions, it could motivate you to do the same. It might also inspire you to take up a new hobby or pursue a new goal, according to a 2020 study.

Improve relationships

If you’ve been feeling some level of disconnect between someone close to you — whether it’s your romantic partner, best friend, or child — watching movies together could be just the ticket to rekindle your relationship.

It could be especially helpful if you have the same taste in movies and choose something new that you’re both enthused about watching.

Not only will you bond in the moment of watching, but you might feel a renewed sense of connection when you discuss what you watched afterward.

Reduce stress

A good comedy could help lower your stress levels. A 2016 study found that laughter could reduce the levels of hormones in the body responsible for stress, such as cortisol and epinephrine.

If you’re not in the mood to laugh, consider a drama or tearjerker. Crying could also lower cortisol levels in the blood, according to a 2020 study.

Inspire social and cultural reflection

Watching films that take on tough topics could be a thought-provoking experience for you.

Whether you want to better understand a current social issue or spark a conversation about an opposing point of view, watching films could help educate and enlighten.

Aside from providing entertainment and a distraction from a stressful day, watching movies could also be a therapy technique.

Cinema and video therapy are sometimes used as a part of psychotherapy. Therapists might use this type of therapy to expose you to a character who might be having a similar emotional experience, according to a 2021 study.

It could also encourage you to look at your situation from a different perspective, providing new ways of coping.

A therapist might choose a commercial film or video (documentary) related to your challenges. If you’re having trouble in your romantic relationship, you might be instructed to watch a film with the same theme.

You might also be given therapeutic exercises to perform before, during, or after viewing.

The movie, genre, and the theme chosen will depend on your situation.

Engaging in activities you enjoy, such as watching movies, can be beneficial. It could boost your mental health, relieve stress, and foster relationships.

Still, movies aren’t a treatment or cure for your mental health symptoms. If your symptoms interfere with your daily life, a mental health professional could help.

They might be able to determine whether cinema therapy would work for you and your lifestyle.