6 Top Stress Cures You Haven't Already Heard
Surprise #1: Watch a Scary Movie (Popcorn Optional)
In psychoanalysis, there's a concept known as "repetition compulsion" wherein patients unconsciously attempt to achieve mastery over a past trauma by revisiting the original emotional scene of the crime in the hope that this time the situation will turn out differently. If you are anxious or stressed, here's a nifty way to replicate this remedy, but at a remove: Watch a scary movie. "These films allow you to tackle upsetting issues from the safe distance of allegory," says Constance Pittman Lindner, a writer and health researcher in Boston. "This permits a safe confrontation of real fears disguised in conquerable, metaphorical form.
Here's how it works, according to Charles Goodstein, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University Medical Center. "The stressful situation depicted on screen is related unconsciously in feeling and tone to your own stress, but at the same time because it is a film, you are psychologically distant from it," he explains. "You have, in small doses, a very frightening experience, yet you're in control of it, as you aren't in real life. Even if the movie ends disastrously for the characters in it, you're always aware that you will leave the theater alive and well. So this emotional journey can be a useful way to discharge stress."
It Worked for Her: When Melanie Votaw, 48, of Brooklyn, New York, was recuperating from a serious car accident, she discovered that Speed, Jurassic Park, and Jaws became her favorite movies to view again and again. "There was something cathartic about watching them, like it let me let go of the stress," she recalls. "I felt that it physically removed the trauma from my body -- I think because I was able to relive it in a make-believe setting."