Why Hallmark Christmas Movies Could Be Beneficial For Your Mental Health

The holiday season may be known as the best time of the year to some people, but it can also be a very difficult time of the year. On top of an already stressful world, 64% of people with a mental illness feel even worse around the holidays (McClean Hospital). When you factor that into the 52.9 million U.S. adults experiencing mental illness, that's a lot of people facing the holiday blues (NIH).

How do you combat stress when your holiday isn't looking very merry and bright? NBC News suggests turning on a Hallmark Christmas movie. While this might sound counterintuitive, the emotions spurred by the films can help us destress during a busy holiday season — or any time of year, really. 

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Feel-good films can equal feel-good vibes

Although Hallmark produces feel-good movies year-round, there's something special about their Christmas films. In fact, several of the most popular Hallmark movies center around the holiday season. The sweet romances and perfect twists of fate can provide a cozy haven that could benefit your mental health.

So how, exactly, do Hallmark holiday movies help your mental health? Danielle Forshee, who has a doctorate in psychology, broke it down for Elite Daily. "When we witness a character experience pain, happiness, loss, or any emotion, our brain recognizes that and we immediately start feeling that same pain as if it was real," she said. 

That seems like a great excuse to cuddle up and watch some feel-good TV. Furthermore, it can even be healthy to get attached to certain shows and fictional characters as this can help you nurture your empathic side and aid in self-discovery. Who doesn't want to live a swoony romance in a Hallmark winter wonderland?

There might be drama in Hallmark Christmas movies, but it's always resolved quickly and you always know there's going to be a happy ending. "We can be attracted to the easy solutions because our day-to-day life can seem to have more questions than answers," therapist Kati Morton told HuffPost.

The predictability of Hallmark Christmas movies is part of the reason they are so soothing

While many discount Hallmark movies as being a little predictable, experts say that's actually a big reason why people are so drawn to them. Pamela Rutledge, a behavioral scientist, says these classic Christmas films can offer a break from reality. "The human brain loves patterns, and the predictability is cognitively rewarding," she told The Concord Insider. "Those predictable story arcs that draw on the standard patterns we recognize from fairytales offer comfort by presenting life as simple and moralistic."

"Simple and moralistic" sounds pretty good and can be the perfect way to help soothe you when the supposedly tranquil Christmas season feels anything but peaceful. The placid, snow-laden scenes from Hallmark Christmas movies can be a far cry from the actual bustle of the Christmas season, providing an ideal escape.

As The Los Angeles Film School blog puts it, "During the whiplash-inducing holiday season, we deserve some earnest inoffensive entertainment. We want media that doesn't make us think but just lets us feel."