Category Archives: Stress Management

Top 10 Movies to Make You Feel Happy

Sometimes when you’re feeling down, there’s no better cure than a favorite, classic, make-you-smile movie.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

My taste in movies has changed over the years. As a teen, I grew up on movies like Jaws, Poseidon Adventure, and Alien and couldn’t get enough of those adrenaline pumping thrillers – that are actually tame by today’s standards.

Although I still enjoy an adventurous sci-fi movie, I shy away from all those violent movies that mimic today’s harsh realities. Give me an old-fashioned, nostalgic, feel-good movie or a comedy that makes me laugh out loud instead.

In an earlier blog, I listed my favorite 15 songs that make me feel happy along with the benefits of music if you want to check it out. Today, I’ll share my list of top 10 movies that never fail to chase the blues away and lighten the day:

1.       Captain Ron

Captain RonMaybe it’s because my husband and I love to sail, but this movie never fails to crack us up.  The funny Martin Short plays the main character who inherits a sailboat formerly owned by Clark Gable. The family can make money on the boat if they sail it from a Caribbean island and deliver the relic in good condition to a yacht broker in Miami. His wife is against the idea until their 16-year-old airhead daughter announces her engagement. So off they go with crazy, one-eyed Captain Ron, played by Kurt Russell, guiding their trip. Of course, hilarity and family bonding ensues.

2.       The Shawshank Redemption

shawshank redemptionBased on a Stephen King novella, this movie features the wonderfully talented Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The touching and inspiring tale is based on an innocent man, Andy, sentenced for life for the murder of his wife and her lover. Although he is introduced to the harsh realities of prison early on, Andy never gives up. He is able to bring dignity and self-worth to some of the other inmates and manages to find small moments of serenity and gratitude even in dire circumstances. Most inspiring of all, this resilient man never, never gives up hope.

3.       The Blind Side

blindsideWho doesn’t love this heartwarming true story of a young homeless football player who is able to miraculously turn his life around with the help of Leigh Anne Tuohy. Brilliantly played by Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, Leigh Anne finds Big Mike wandering aimlessly without a coat on a cold night and becomes his strongest supporter. The film shows what is possible when you open up your heart to generously help someone in need and what can be accomplished when someone wholeheartedly believes in you.

4.       Up

upIn ode to my grandchildren, I’m including an animated film that is funny and wonderfully heart touching. This cartoon features a grumpy old widower who rediscovers his joy in life with the help of an earnest kid that won’t give up on him and a lovable talking dog. This beautifully written story proves that you’re never too old to take a risk and it’s never too late to have an exciting adventure. In fact, a kid’s movie is the perfect way to get in touch with your inner child and forget life’s troubles. Some of my other favorites include Despicable Me, Toy Story, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Shrek, and Mary Poppins.

 5.       Overboard

overboardA beautiful, snobby, and cruel heiress named Joanna (Goldie Hawn), screws over a widowed carpenter with four kids named Dean (Kurt Russell). When Joanna falls overboard and suffers from amnesia, her husband takes advantage of the situation to rid himself of his demanding wife while Dean plots revenge and claims her as his wife. Watching the spoiled Joanna deal with four rowdy boys living in a shack convinced by Dean that previously she was a fat slut who ”jumped his bones” the first night they met in the parking lot of a Seven-Eleven tickles my funny bone every time. “I don’t belong here, I feel it, don’t you think I feel it?” she asks at one point. “I can’t do any of these vile things and I wouldn’t WANT to. Oh, my life is like death. My children are the spawn of hell, and you’re the devil.” Of course, it all has a happy ending. Fun stuff.

6.       The Sound of Music

sound of musicNow it’s time to share my all-time favorite movie as a child. I must have driven my Mom crazy singing Edelweiss and My Favorite Things from this enchanting classic. Julie Andrews was my idol. The romance between the stern Captain and the free-spirited Maria, their daring escape from the Nazis, along with all those adorable children mesmerized me. To this day, whenever I see this playing on TV, I can’t resist watching.

7.       The Family Man

family manCritics called this movie predictable, but I loved the message. The film reminded me of Parenthood which also helps us appreciate the importance of family.  Nicolas Cage plays a materialistic, self-involved investment broker who wakes up to find himself in an alternative reality married to his college sweetheart along with a couple of kids. At first he is horrified that his sports car has been exchanged for a mini-van. Then the whole family thing begins to grow on him. This movie asks the question – are you living a life consistent with your values?

8.       Blazing Saddles

blazing saddlesMel Brook’s silly spoof of Westerns about a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) and his sidekick (Gene Wilder) coming to an all-white town is a classic comedy from the 70s. Add several eccentric characters including Madeline Kahn mimicking Marlene Deitrich, a bigoted preacher, a lecherous governor played by Brooks himself, and an Indian chief who speaks Yiddish to the mix. Yes, this movies is in bad taste, vulgar, crude, and absolutely scandalous with its racial humor, but it’s also funny! If you want to watch another hilarious slapstick spoof that changed movies forever, try Airplane!

9.       You’ve Got Mail

you've got mailIf you’re in the mood for a romantic feel-good comedy, you can’t go wrong with this update of The Shop Around the Corner (1940). This film has a couple of my favorite actors in their heyday – Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan – and is directed by the talented Nora Ephron. Maybe it’s because I love bookstores or maybe it’s the innocent romance, but I find this movie delightful. By the way, I’m also a sucker for Sleepless in Seattle.

10.   Arsenic and Old Lace

arsenicMy Mom introduced me to old 1940s movies as a kid and this one is hysterical. Okay, the premise doesn’t sound funny since it’s about two old aunts who have a nasty little habit of killing single old men. But with Raymond Massy playing the escaped murderer and his cousin who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and best of all, Cary Grant trying to clean up the sordid affair as he learns his family is insane on his wedding day – and you have some funny stuff.  Another movie that never fails to make me laugh is Auntie Mame (1958). Love it!

So there you go. I’ve shared some of my favorites, but I’d love to hear what movies make you instantly feel better. What movies did I forget to include in my list? Please share your choices in the comments below!

Recovering From Stressful Events

Image courtesy of Ambro at

Image courtesy of Ambro at

Have you ever undergone a dramatic, shocking, or painful event that made your body shut down so you couldn’t sleep or eat? A distressing situation that left you literally shaking and unable to function normally in day-to-day life?

I certainly have and I’d lay bets that most of you have had this experience as well. When this happens, how can you heal and move forward in your life?

Here are a few life lessons I’m learning along the way:


This means a lot of different things to different people. Personally, refueling during stressful times in my life has meant focusing on my spiritual needs and constant prayer. It means forcing my mind away from all the drama, stress, and worry to make room for more positive thoughts. It means leaning on those who support and love me.

Step Away

When you are in an overwhelming situation, remove yourself from the situation long enough to gain perspective, calm yourself, and regain your composure so you can move forward.

Image courtesy of khunaspix  at

Image courtesy of khunaspix at

Be Still

“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time,” Hermann Hesse said. When an event leaves you completely rattled, it’s helpful to leave the TV, computer, and electronic gadgets off to allow time for some quiet introspection.

Nurture Yourself

Do something peaceful and comforting that slows down frantic thoughts and emotions. This may mean reading something uplifting and inspirational, praying, journaling, taking a relaxing walk, or listening to soothing music.

Seek Lessons

Sometimes the best way to get past the melodrama and move on is to try to learn from the experience and look for any life lessons. Allow the painful situation to help you develop strength and resilience.

Be Grateful

Now is the perfect time to remember all the reasons you still have to be thankful. Keep a gratitude journal or make a list if you need help remembering.

Admittedly, keeping your sanity through a dramatic event is never easy. However, if you can keep these tips in mind, it will help you get past the emotional, psychological, and physical distress. Then you can regain the balance and peace in your life that everyone desires and deserves.

Five Ways to Manage Stress

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Do you have a tendency to feel stressed out and worry excessively?

Look out!

Maybe you heard the bad news last week. A new study by researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden followed a group of women in their 40s, whose disposition made them prone to anxiety, moodiness, and psychological distress, to see how many developed dementia over the next 38 years.

Turns out that women who were the most easily upset by stress were two times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

That means now’s the time to get stress under control, ladies! No more ignoring the problem. And although the study didn’t include statistics for men, we all know that stress management is essential for both sexes since anxiety has a profound effect on our health and well-being.

So how do you take charge of your thoughts and emotions to manage your anxiety? How can you change the way you deal with problems and your schedule to control your anger, frustration, and worries?

To help you get started, I’ve outlined five steps you can take to relieve stress:

Identify What Makes You Anxious

The purpose of this step is not to eliminate every stressful situation in your life. That’s impossible. Everyone is going to have problems. Sometimes you must accept what can’t be changed and concentrate on coping strategies.

However, knowing what triggers anxious feelings can help you concentrate on what can be changed. For example, perhaps you can limit your time or even remove negative people from your life that constantly stress you out. Or maybe you need to let go of perfectionism or stop being so hard on yourself.

Be aware of signs that you are feeling stressed such as feeling irritable, fatigued, or anxious and make changes when possible. If a situation can’t be changed, then use the following steps to stop these feelings in their tracks.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Quit Ruminating and Cultivate a Positive Attitude

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude,” Maya Angelou famously said.

How can you quit ruminating and develop a more positive attitude? Change your thought pattern, start a journal to release angry or stressful thoughts, meditate, enjoy a relaxing hobby, or simply breathe deeply.

As I brought out in a previous blog on Cultivating a Positive Attitude, you don’t have to be a victim of your circumstances. Instead of dwelling on what’s wrong in your life, start thinking about how you can make better decisions in the future, what you can learn from the experience, and ways you can use the situation to build character and strength.

Bottling up emotions can lead to a complete meltdown. Instead of holding it all in, communicate any problems quickly and honestly. Resolve conflicts and learn to forgive.

Appreciate the good things in your life, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Be grateful for what you have instead of lamenting what you lack. Smile and laugh more. Humor can help combat fear and frustrations by relaxing your body. Do something nice for someone to lift your spirits.

Learn to Manage Your Time

Sometimes stress can be a result of poor time-management skills. If a project seems overwhelming, try dividing it into smaller tasks giving each one a deadline. Delegate responsibilities whenever possible. If your schedule is cluttered with unnecessary activities that are stressful, learn to say no. Check out my previous blog for ways to do so. Eliminate words like “should” and “must” from your vocabulary.

Even if your life is full with exciting and fulfilling activities, you can feel stressed if you’re constantly rushing around. Cultivate inner peace by scheduling down time. Write it down in your calendar. Spend time in nature, play with a pet, call a friend, enjoy a hobby, listen to soothing music, or take a long bath. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stresses.


I know, duh! You already knew that exercise can help you feel less stressed, right? But sometimes when you’re feeling anxious, exercise seems unappealing and more like a chore.

Get past that attitude and don’t give up. As I wrote in my blog, How Exercise Makes You Happier, twenty minutes on a treadmill doesn’t solve all of life’s problems, but endorphins produced by exercise can help you feel happier by reducing stress and anxiety and lessening feelings of sadness or depression. I’m not talking about running a marathon here. Actually moderate exercise works best for relieving stress. Choose relaxing exercises like swimming, walking, or Pilates.

While you’re at it, adapt a healthy lifestyle with nutritious food and adequate sleep. Learn to breathe deeply and practice relaxation exercises. Click here for five basic ones I listed in a previous blog that you can try.

 Image courtesy of Naypong at

Image courtesy of Naypong at

Read a Book

This is one of my personal favorite ways to relax and escape from life’s problems.

Although often overlooked as a form of stress relief, research by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex shows that reading is great for your mental health and can reduce stress levels by up to 68 percent.

Yea! I have a new reason to delve into the latest best seller. Turns out the human mind processes reading in much the same way as meditation. When your head is in a book you can shut out distractions by focusing on one specific thing. Your muscles relax and your mind is given a much needed break from everyday frustrations.

If you are middle-aged or older, this new study is a wake-up call. Not only will you reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s but learning to reduce stress brings countless emotional and physical health benefits.

By knowing yourself well enough to tell when you’re under stress, you can take action as soon as possible, let go of all that anxiety, and find your bliss!