Psychologist Says Watching Friends Can Help People With Anxiety

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watching friends helps anxietyWarner Bros Television Distribution

Even though we last saw the six friends head off for a final Central Perk coffee 15 years ago, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, Monica, Joey and Chandler are always there for you when you need them.

Friends is as comforting as a bowl of your favourite ice cream, sprinkled with the sort of nostalgia and genuine warmth that many of its modern imitators have failed to replicate.

The nineties era sitcom has eased generations of people through break-ups and major life changes, loneliness and frustrations at work.

The affluent, fashionable lives of the attractive main cast were – even back then – a wistful fairy-tale. But it’s a fairy-tale we want to hear over and again, soothing us through hangovers and sleeplessness, homesickness and heartbreak.

And it would seem that the cosiness of Friends is a much more powerful medicine than you might expect, even having the ability to help those suffering from anxiety.

Speaking with Metro.co.uk, Clinical Psychologist Marc Hekster explained:

Having worked for over a period of 20 years with those experiencing anxiety, I can conclude that among other factors, it is the repetitive and relational nature of programs such as Friends and Big Bang Theory that will be doing the trick.

Anxiety is in fact the human minds’ alarm system, indicating that something is wrong, and usually the result of pent up and unprocessed feelings,

The feelings build-up, is not dissimilar to a pressure-cooker and will always need to find a way out. If they can’t find a way of being expressed, the alarm system triggers, and it is usually not very pleasant for the person suffering with the anxiety.

Few people who suffer from anxiety will have much good to say about it, and will want to escape it.

friends can help anxietyWarner Bros. Television

According to Metro.co.uk, Hekster continued:

[…] It is soothing to see the same outcome every time and know you can depend on it. This is at the heart of human development.

So, when grown-ups are anxious, they can have child-like feelings of fear and worry, and these can be soothed by repetition. Bring on Friends repeats for the 10th time.

I totally get this. When I was going through a tricky time a couple of years back, all I could handle watching was endless repeats of Gilmore Girls.

People are struggling to spend time with your friends.Warner Bros. Television

Even though I knew each episode inside out, it felt like returning to a lovely safe – and yes, repetitive – place the likes of which the latest edgy dramas just couldn’t promise.

Sitcom escapism is all well and good, but do make sure to seek help if anxious thoughts are having a serious affect on your life.

If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]


Julia Banim

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications. When not Lad-ing about, she enjoys cooking, reading and trying not to fall over in Yoga.