This Just In: Being A Sci-Fi Fan Is Good For Your Mental Health
Science fiction fandom is fun. That’s probably why you got into it in the first place. But it’s also good for you—specifically, for your mental health.
Being a sci-fi (or superhero, or fantasy, or horror) fan automatically gives you entry into a community of like-minded people you can connect with. Love Orphan Black? Welcome to the Clone Club. Doctor Who fan? Congratulations, you’re a Whovian. Star Wars-obsessed? You could be the person who finally comes up with a nickname for that decades-old community of fans. (Seriously. We’re waiting.)
It’s exactly these kinds of connections, the kind you form debating and discussing your fave sci-fi shows and movies, that fight of things like anxiety, depression, and stress. Actually, they do even more than that.
Dr. Janina Scarlet, a scientist, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and practitioner of Superhero Therapy says that “meaningful connections like this also improve our physical health, [while] strengthening our immune system and balancing our nervous system.” Feel free to quote her the next time your jerk coworker makes a crack about your Cyberman t-shirt.
“When we connect with our values, like gaming, Cosplaying, [or] attending Cons,” says Dr. Scarlet, “our bodies can release the feel good hormones, such as endorphins and oxytocin, which are our body’s own defense against stress, mental illness, and physical illness.”
In short, this is your mental health on sci-fi:
Scientific evidence shows that actively engaging with a community of people who matter to you can even increase your lifespan. The alternative, especially for depression and anxiety sufferers, is to shut down in the face of stress and to withdraw. As a strategy for dealing with mental health problems, that’s likely to lead to increased depression in the long term.
“During those dark moments of disconnection when depression or anxiety are at their worst, it helps to connect with our biggest values,” advises Dr. Scarlet. So embrace your inner (and outer) nerd and celebrate your love of sci-fi by getting involved in the huge and varied online or IRL communities that champion it. It’ll be good for your brain.
January 25 is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Tweet about your favourite sci-fi show or character (or anything you want) with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk to help raise money to support mental health initiatives in Canada.