For many people, music and movies serve as distractions from stress and anxiety. A new study suggests that for women in an especially stressful place, there’s a unique option that can help ease their burden: watching Disney movies.
Researchers at a cancer center in Vienna, Austria knew studies have shown that music can improve your health. Uplifting movies can have similar results. Why not combine the two? And who does this better than Disney?
In a yearlong trial, women with gynecologic cancers were either shown Disney movies or not during six cycles of chemotherapy. Before and after every cycle, they completed questionnaires about their levels of fatigue and quality-of-life issues such as how they were functioning emotionally and socially.
The team carefully chose eight movies, including “Cinderella,” “Lady and the Tramp,” ‘The Sword in the Stone,” and “Mary Poppins.” The other films used in the research were “The Jungle Book,” “Aristocats,” “Robin Hood” and “The Little Mermaid.” All were produced between 1950 and 1989 and were picked because they were likely to evoke happy memories. The stories chosen have strong main characters who surmount difficulties without necessarily resolving them. And, importantly, they have happy endings.
Patients in the Disney group felt significantly less tense and worried less than patients in the control group. Watching Disney movies also was associated with less encroachment on their family life and social activities, and fewer symptoms of fatigue.
Life is not a movie, and not every ending is happy. But for people going through a painful ordeal, being able to take yourself back to a happier time, while humming a familiar tune, may make the road ahead a little less frightening.