With any luck, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are going to bring down the house at tonight's Golden Globe Awards. For anyone planning on tuning in, not only do those laughs burn calories (yes!), a hearty chuckle can help lower stress, soothe pain and fight off heart problems, among other benefits.
But it's not the only part of the evening's festivities that could benefit your body. While it would be more than a little silly to tell you that "Les Mis" teaches us how to stay safe from consumption, there are some surprisingly smart health lessons among the TV shows and movies nominated for the 2013 Golden Globe. Click through the slideshow below, whether you'll be watching the awards presentation or not. Then tell us in the comments what we missed!
Actress Claire Danes stars in this drama series as <a href="http://www.sho.com/sho/homeland/cast/17762/carrie-mathison">CIA officer Carrie Mathison</a>, who has <a href="http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1BIPOLAR_ADULT.shtml">bipolar disorder</a>, a mental illness that affects nearly three percent of American adults, according to the National Insitute of Mental Health, but isn't often depicted on TV. While a number of media sources have commented on this positive portrayal of a person with bipolar disorder, Carrie still faces an on-air version of the stigma experienced by many struggling with mental health issues in real life every day. “Her words go unheeded <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/10/homeland-and-shameless-television-tackles-bipolar-disorder-with-realism.html">when her condition is discovered</a> by her employers,” writes The Daily Beast, and she fears she’ll lose her job, writes the <em>LA Times</em>, so she <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/19/health/la-he-unreal-homeland-20111219">turns to her psychiatrist sister for treatment</a>. Dispelling stigma is a slow process, but perhaps seeing realistic portrayals of mental illness on TV can inspire us all to keep an open mind.
"Life of Pi"
As far as stressful situations go, floating on a boat adrift in the Pacific while trying to not get eaten by a tiger -- well, that's pretty high up there. Many of us have a proverbial tiger staring us down that threatens to overpower our resolve, if we let it. But it takes "<a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/schlepping-through-heartbreak/201212/what-life-pi-has-do-heartbreak">cunning and energy</a>... to not succumb to despair," writes a Psychology Today blogger. While few, if any of us, will live out anything close to Pi's adventure, it never hurts to remember <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/find-balance-tips_n_2451151.html">what keeps you balanced</a>.
"The Big Bang Theory"
Physicist Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons, confronts a fear of birds in one episode called <a href="http://the-big-bang-theory.com/episodeguide/episode/509/The-Ornithophobia-Diffusion/">"The Ornithophobia Diffusion"</a>. And while a number of Sheldon’s idiosyncrasies are made up for the sake of a good laugh, phobias are <em>very</em> real and can be incredibly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/30/unusual-phobias-odd_n_887984.html#s301163&title=GELIOPHOBIA__Fear">disruptive to everyday life</a>. It’s important to know that <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/phobias.html">phobias can often be treated</a> with medication, therapy or both, according to the NIH, and that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emily-kaufman/confronting-my-fear-of-snakes_b_1866307.html">confronting smaller fears</a> can be inspiring and freeing.
"Silver Linings Playbook"
This romantic comedy/drama centers on the story of Pat Solitano, played by Bradley Cooper, who has been recently released from a mental health facility where he was being treated for bipolar disorder. Critics have voiced varying interpretations of the film's stance on medication and psychiatry. "<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2012/11/the-book-on-silver-linings-playbook.html#ixzz2Hgs5FTcm">The story challenges the medical 'establishment'</a> and the efficacy of medical science in bringing about results," writes Richard Brody for The New Yorker. However, Slate points out that Pat <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/11/29/silver_linings_playbook_mental_illness_movie_not_really.html">later recommits to taking his medication</a>, "a validation of the medical establishment -- a testament to the imperfect but invaluable power of mood stabilizers to treat bipolar disorder." While medication remains one of the most trusted methods of treating bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses, this film shines a light on differing opinions, and reminds us that there are additional ways to <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bipolar-disorder/DS00356/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies">maintain mental health</a>, like exercise and sound sleep.
In PBS's surprise hit, we see the effects of the <a href="http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/">1918 Spanish Flu pandemic</a>, which killed as many as 40 million people worldwide, according to Stanford. The Crawley family is not immune -- but, as many critics have pointed out, they had a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leslie-gerwin/flu-season_b_1332409.html">tidy and mild experience compared to what happened in real life</a>. However, the (relatively) happy ending to the "Downton Abbey" run in with the Spanish Flu may undermine the real lesson to be learned. "It really was a major event in modern human history,” Richard Danila, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health told MinnPost. "Outside of wars, there weren't many events seen like it. <a href="http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2012/02/downton-abbey-gets-flu-%E2%80%94-does-it-get-it-right">So to downplay it at all is wrong</a>." The article continues: <blockquote>“Cleaned up” depictions of the pandemic may also contribute to complacency, he added. If we misunderstand what happened in 1918, we won’t be fully prepared for the next major pandemic, which many pubic-health professionals believe is long overdue.</blockquote>
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
Whether they're discovering new love or just new hobbies, the British retirees of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" prove that old age isn't the end of <em>living</em>. In their search for an affordable way to retire overseas, a number of them come closer to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-niles-phd/life-passion_b_2252763.html">living their passions</a> -- and cultivate new friendships in the process. There's research to support this healthy life lesson: Staying socially connected like this traveling troupe has been <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/personality-longevity_n_1652685.html#slide=1190735">shown to boost longevity</a>.
The comedy, created by and starring Lena Dunham, and back tonight for its <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/girls-season-2-lena-dunham_n_2434973.html">second season</a>, follows a group of young women living in New York City. In one episode, Dunham's character, Hannah, finds out she has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/hpv-facts-myths_n_2417371.html">HPV</a>. While some strains of the virus <em>can</em> <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/HPV">cause genital warts and certain cancers</a>, most do not and eventually go away on their own, according to the National Cancer Institute. Hannah spews out a number of statements about HPV throughout the episode that critics and viewers alike have pointed out to be <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/tv-show-girls-adds-to-the-muddle-on-hpv-testing/">simply untrue</a>, as the <em>New York Times</em> reported. But "Girls" missing the mark on some of the concrete facts about HPV drives home two lessons. First, we still need more awareness around testing and preventing this and a number of other sexually transmitted infections. And second, don't believe everything you see on TV.
Note: "The Newsroom," "Breaking Bad," "Episodes," "Modern Family," "Smash" and "Boardwalk Empire" were also nominated in television series categories and "Argo," "Django Unchained," "Lincoln," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" and "Moonrise Kingdom" were also nominated in motion picture categories.
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