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19 Things To Watch On Netflix When You Feel Anxious

From fantastical escapism to soothing cooking and nature shows.

Nadiya Hussain in 'Nadiya Bakes,' a great show to watch when you're feeling anxious via the Netflix press site
Netflix
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People who experience anxiety deal with it in many different ways. While some people don’t like watching television or movies when anxious, for others, diving into a comforting movie or TV show is the perfect way to destress. In fact, many people with anxiety like to rewatch their favorite shows over and over again — something that psychologists say makes sense, since anxiety and uncertainty go hand in hand.

"It can become really therapeutic, especially if you are feeling anxious. Watching the same piece multiple times reaffirms that there's order in the world and that it can create a sense of safety and comfort on a primal level,” psychologist Pamela Rutledge told Medium in 2019.

Still, there are times when you might want to ascend from the depths of nostalgia and dive into something new. Deciding what exactly to watch can also be anxiety-inducing, as there are an overwhelming number of options to choose from. Some people might like the familiar warmth of an animated film, while others may prefer to enter into the world of fantasy and get as far away from the real world as you can. Whatever your preference, this list of the best things to watch on Netflix when you feel anxious might be exactly what you’re looking for to relax.

1

East Side Sushi

A Los Angeles culture clash happens when single mom Juana decides to learn how to be a sushi chef. While some drama unfolds, this is a sweet story about beating the odds and how it’s never too late to find your passion.

Perfect for... when you’re feeling burnt out from work and want to watch something creatively invigorating.

2

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Don’t be thrown off by images of Will Ferrell in a Viking outfit: this movie is a surprisingly earnest homage to the titular singing competition. The story is inspiring, and in the middle there’s a fun medley featuring real Eurovision winners.

Perfect for... when you need a quick break from reality to recharge (and possibly sing along).

3

Lorena: Light-Footed Woman

Lorena Ramírez is an Indigenous ultramarathon runner who literally runs in a pair of huarache sandals and a dress. While short, this documentary gives you a fascinating glimpse into her life and training methods.

Perfect for... when you’re looking to be inspired.

4

Our Planet

This series showcases Earth’s various ecosystems, and each episode feels like its own documentary. While watching animals chase after each other and fight is not necessarily an anxiety dampener, visiting the different habitats is oddly soothing.

Perfect for... when your anxiety is so all-consuming, you need to be reminded of the beauty in the world.

5

Riverdale

This CW hit is teenage escapism at its finest. Between absurd cult leaders, mystical villains with branch wings, and petty family feuds revolving around maple syrup, marathoning its four seasons will make you forget about everything outside of its campy drama.

Perfect for... pre-family reunion anxiety. Nothing will make you more thankful for your relatively normal family than spending a few hours with the Blossoms and the Coopers.

6

Jingle Jangle

This festive movie about a down-and-out toymaker is perfect for all-year round. It’s got colorful costumes, a clever young protagonist, and musical performances from Forest Whitaker and Keegan-Michael Key.

Perfect for… when you’re feeling like you’re not making any headway on a project and need to be reminded it’s OK to take a break and come back to it later.

7

The Wedding Party I and II

In this Nollywood rom-com, the success of a couple’s lavish wedding is threatened by unhappy parents, uninvited guests, and of course, surprise exes. This was the first Nigerian film to ever pass 400 million naira (around $1.3 million), and for good reason — it’s very fun.

Perfect for… when dating anxieties are getting to you and you just need to sit back and watch someone else’s romance turn hilariously chaotic.

8

The Repair Shop

Watching Jay Blades and his team of expert craftspeople restore family heirlooms is an extremely therapeutic and zen watch. It’s really cool to see expert leather workers, ceramic conservators, and clock restorers slowly bring an item back to life.

Perfect for… if you’re someone who likes to watch cleaning or ASMR videos on YouTube to calm down.

9

Jane The Virgin

One of the most delightful shows from The CW, Jane the Virgin isn't 100% escapism, but there's something very soothing about watching characters deal with anxieties and life changes similar to yours.

Perfect for... your everyday anxieties like: what are you doing with your life? When are you going to have kids, if at all? And who would narrate the story of your life?

10

Nadiya Bakes and Nadiya’s Time to Eat

When you need a break from The Great British Baking Show, Season 6 winner Nadiya Hussain has two soothing shows on Netflix that you should definitely check out. One is about her favorite baking recipes while the other is more about meals for time-strapped families. They’re both very sweet and fun.

Perfect for… unwinding after work, while you cook your own dinner.

11

Stardust

This 2007 film stars Charlie Cox as a young man who ventures into the realm of fairies to retrieve a space rock for his beloved. Except the space rock is actually a fallen star in the form of a woman, with whom he embarks on a fantastical journey.

Perfect for… when you’re craving some romantic fantasy and want the assurance that yes, everything will work out just fine in the end.

12

Flavorful Origins

This quiet Mandarin-language series is a journey through the culinary traditions of China. From baking lilies to making savory bananas, there is a lot to learn and enjoy here.

Perfect for… being reminded that you’re just one small part in a big world, so don’t sweat the small stuff.

13

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Kipo Oak searches for her dad while exploring a post-apocalyptic world ruled by mutated animals. While that sounds scary, the series is actually very cute. It’s also been praised for its representation of queer characters and characters of color.

Perfect for… when you want some beautifully crafted animation with uplifting themes.

14

Night on Earth

Narrated by Samira Wiley, Night on Earth is exactly what it says on the tin. Strap in from some really interesting looks at the animals that socialize after dark.

Perfect for… when anxiety is keeping you up at night.

15

The Good Place

Nothing puts your entire existence into perspective like a sitcom about the afterlife. The Good Place is also just an amazing and very self-aware show that explores questions about ethics in morality in a very creative and humorous way.

Perfect for... literally any anxiety you could possibly have. (The Good Place is really that good!)

16

Haikyuu!!

There are admittedly a lot of stressful moments in this high school volleyball anime, but the point of the series is exploring how each boy learns to overcome their own frustrations and shortcomings on the court. It’s a wildly inspiring watch, with some great animation and music to boot.

Perfect for… when you need to quiet your self-doubt.

17

The Big Flower Fight

A bunch of florists compete on this reality flower competition. The contestants are quirky, their work is beautiful, and the show overall just emanates good, chill vibes.

Perfect for… when you need to stop and smell the roses.

18

The Speed Cubers

Though seemingly a quite simple documentary about people who enter into Rubix Cube speed competitions, Speed Cubers is ultimately a moving and quiet look at two top champions, how they interact with each other, and how they’re always driven to be better.

Perfect for… looking outside yourself to learn about niche interests and people’s unique passions.

19

Kim’s Convenience

Who doesn’t love relaxing to a good sitcom? This one centers on a lovable Korean-Canadian family that owns a convenience store.

Perfect for… when you need to destress from family-based anxieties and watch someone else’s!