- Natalie Collins
Three wellbeing lessons from our favourite Christmas films
As if we needed another excuse to tuck into our festive favourites, now we can do so safe in the knowledge that (at least) a select few films offer helpful insights into how we can take better care of our wellbeing.
Why we love it: Beautiful people; Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and (a surprisingly earnest appearance from) Jack Black make for a concoction more sickly sweet than mince pies and mulled wine. Optics aside, the film follows the ever-popular format of characters forging new lives (and loves) following various break-ups (two widowers, one lovesick sap and one thawing ice queen). Throw in a Christmassy house-swapping twist we’re left feeling happy, hopeful and just a little bit in love with Jude Law.
What’s the wellbeing takeaway: Believe in life after love (or love after love)! If you’re recovering from heartache, all you need to do is travel to the other side of the world to find love again, easy eh? Jokes aside, the somewhat saccharine messaging tells us that love both platonic (in the case of Kate Winslet and her neighbour) or romantic (in the case of Cameron Diaz and her host’s brother) can serve as a powerful catalyst for building our self-esteem and allowing us to access our inner gumption.
Why we love it: The original bad-guy backstory causes the audience’s hearts to grow alongside the Grinch’s. Starring Jim Carey as the enigmatic Grinch, there are enough quips, slapstick humour and wry observations to prevent its descent into your typical heart-wrenching guff. Ultimately The Grinch is a redemptive tale, which shows the transformative power of love to heal old wounds and community rifts. As the Grinch says in his toast, the film is an ode "To kindness and love, the things we need most."
What’s the wellbeing takeaway: Sometimes the people who are hardest to love are those who need it the most. It would have been easy for Cindy Lou to dismiss the Grinch as a lost cause. Instead and despite his stealing and (criminal) Christmas cynicism, Cindy Lou goes out of her way to make the Grinch feel included. It’s a good reminder to check in on that prickly neighbour and remind ourselves to let love in.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Why we love it: Frank Capra’s classic is now 75 years old, yet its messages feel acutely relevant to many of the existential worries staring us in the face today. The main character George is kind, loving and (unbeknownst to him) a pillar of his community. We feel frustrated for George as his big dreams of going travelling are perennially put on hold to help someone or other in his humdrum hometown. Yet, we are touched by the way in which the characters in the film show kindness, compassion and real care in the face of turmoil (wars, economic crises and loss).
What we can learn from it: When you’ve lost all hope, let the people in your life remind you - you matter. It’s difficult to see George’s dreams thwarted and his desperation when he contemplates the ultimate sacrifice to provide for his family. The kindness shown to him at the end of the film is a potent reminder of the ripple effect the kindness we show others has on our communities and the world at large.
Whether you’re spending this Christmas swaddled in a duvet with the Christmas classics, or planning parties amid ever-changing restrictions - we wish you the merriest of times - and hope you can find a way to take care of your wellbeing no matter the news!
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