Health and Fitness

What to Watch on Netflix Next Time You’re Feeling Stressed

“It’s witty, funny, and feel-good, but also has important underlying themes and messages and does a great job of getting them across in a lighthearted way. I also think Dan Levy did a great job of making the characters absurd and hilarious, yet they’re still relatable and going through daily struggles that I think most millennials (or people in general) can relate to to some extent.” —Dylan, 27

8. Gilmore Girls

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Gilmore Girls used to be on TV when I got home from school, a solid WB mainstay. My mom also got into it, and it was nice to share a show with her. Watching it today, there’s something about the fun, non-stop dialogue makes it easier to tune out whatever is stressing me out—who doesn’t want to wander around Stars Hollow for an hour or two?” —Ciara, 36

9. Dream Home Makeover 

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If HGTV is your medicine, then head to Netflix and hop on the Dream Home Makeover bandwagon. Shea and Syd McGee help clients create their, well, dream homes. No vision is too big for this husband-and-wife home design team—whose own home, prominently featured in the series as well—is Instagram-picture-perfect. 

10. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 

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“If there’s any movie that exudes the feeling of serotonin on screen, this is it. From the overall pace of the movie to the actors starring in it, TATB never fails to calm my overactive brain on a Saturday night. And if you don’t want a Peter Kavinsky for yourself, have you really watched the movie?” —A.F.

11. Sister, Sister

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For many of us, Sister, Sister is comforting in nostalgia alone. The show, starring twins Tia and Tamera Mowry, takes us back to the 90s, when life felt a little bit simpler. But the humor, plotlines, and sweet sibling shenanigans the Landry/Campbell twins get themselves into still hold up. Lucky for us, all six seasons are on Netflix, so you can give it a full watch from start to finish to properly appreciate this classic sitcom in all of its glory. 

12. Uncut Gems

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“Watching Uncut Gems is like an acid trip laced with anxiety and wonder. If I ever feel stressed, I pop that baby on and instantly forget whatever was stressing me out in real life because it does not compare to what Adam Sandler endures for two hours on screen.” —Tyler, 26

13. The Crown 

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Many people are fascinated by the British royal family because their lives differ so vastly from that of the average American. This is what makes The Crown the ultimate escapist historical drama, as we follow the inauguration of Queen Elizabeth II in the 1940s all the way to the life and times of Princess Diana in the ’90s.  

14. Korean Pork Belly Rhapsody

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“This is not a good choice if you’re uncomfortable with the meat industry, but if you love Korean BBQ or just want to watch people wax poetic about the history, economic and cultural significance, and mass appeal of a specific cut of meat, I cannot think of a better or more relaxing mood piece.” —S.C.

15. The Good Place 

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I’d argue that The Good Place changed the 2010s television landscape by demonstrating what a purely delightful, semi-intellectual show looks like. It’s not a sitcom, and it’s not a drama. It’s a comedy, but it’s more than that, too. It’s about life, and death, and who we want to be…but manages to be a relaxing watch in the process. All four seasons of the show are currently on Netflix, so run, don’t walk, to this fan favorite. (Episodes are only 22 minutes too, which is a plus.)

16. Shameless

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“When I’m stressed, it only makes sense that I would watch a show about a family that leads a more stressful life than I do to make myself feel better. Enter: the Gallaghers. Shameless is crass, cringe-y, and rough, but equally as touching, funny, and deep. I like to get out of my head when I’m feeling anxious and exhausted, and this show makes me think less and laugh more. Also, whenever I make a poor decision, I can flip it on and suddenly I am a pure and blameless angel. Even after rewatching time and again, I love watching the Gallaghers grow up and seeing how each character (even Frank, honestly) comes into their own over the course of the 11 seasons.” —Sarah Madaus, commerce writer 

17. Derry Girls 

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“Derry Girls is, in short, a delight. It follows five high school students at a Catholic school in Derry, Northern Ireland, as they navigate their teen years amidst the backdrop of the Troubles, the almost-30-year nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland. It’s two seasons long, but I could genuinely watch endless hours of the Irish teens getting into ridiculous situations. It’s funny and heartfelt—and the best kind of comfort watch.” —Emily, 25

18. Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo

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If you’re ever feeling like your life is a mess, tune into Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo, where the famous organizational genius enters the homes of real people and helps them tidy up both physically and emotionally. You’re sure to get inspired to clear out your own life after watching this series. And if you, like me, gain extreme satisfaction from an extreme before-and-after transformation, you’re sure to be at ease with Kondo and her tricks. 

19. Avatar: The Last Airbender 

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“This was one of my favorite shows growing up. I find it soothing because technically, I’ve seen it already—I know what to expect from each episode. In a way, knowing what’s coming is calming because there is no surprise whatsoever. And since it’s only 22 minutes per episode, it’s a show you could easily watch without feeling like you need to dedicate all of your time to it, which is its own form of stress.” —A.F.

20. My Octopus Teacher

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This Oscar-winning 2020 documentary tracks the blossoming relationship between a marine biologist free-diver and an octopus he meets in the ocean off the coast of South Africa. 
It is a glaring reminder of the natural world and the cycle of life; it’s also full of incredible ocean life footage and interactions one would rarely be privy to elsewhere. While admittedly, at times, suspense makes this film difficult to watch, it’s ultimately a brain massage for anyone, whether you consider yourself a nature documentary person or not. 

21. Song Exploder 

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“Every episode of this show outlines the production of a single song, breaking it down to its elements and illustrating precisely why said song slaps. This is the show I put on when I still have the brain space to give my full attention to a show, but mainly want something that sounds and looks cool to wash over me. Start with the Dua Lipa episode!” —S.C.

22. Animal

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“I’m a sucker for nature documentaries, and this four-part series is one of the most engaging I’ve seen recently. Narrated by Bryan Cranston, Rashida Jones, Rebel Wilson, and Pedro Pascal, each episode covers a different sector of the animal kingdom. The footage is astounding, and watching this series made me feel like I was connecting to nature from the comfort of my couch.” —Sarah Yalowitz, director of programming and development

23. Jane the Virgin

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“The wild telenovela plot lines and vibrant Miami backdrop of Jane the Virgin are pure fantasy, but the show is grounded in relatable characters and their very real emotions. It’s both an escape and a comfort—exactly what I need to calm my nervous system and remind me that it’s all going to be OK (even when it isn’t).” —Cathryne Keller, associate wellness director

24. Glow 

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When Glow first aired, one of our editors finished the entire season in a day. A day! It’s a historical fiction take on the 1980s wrestling franchise Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. And honestly, there’s nothing like watching Alison Brie and a bunch of other dynamic women kick butt in the ring. 

25. The Wet Hot American Summer Collection

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Relive your summer camp days with this all-American cult-classic franchise. While the original movie is no longer available to watch on Netflix, its two subsequent Netflix original spinoff series, Ten Years Later and First Day of Camp, are both still online. There’s nothing like farcical humor to calm the mind.

26. Riverdale

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This CW show is part-murder mystery and part-high school drama, so while it was definitely created with the teens in mind, people of all ages love it, and for very good reason. There’s sex, there’s fantasy, there’s money, there are evil forces, and there are cheerleaders. Zone out and tune into this one. 

27. New Girl

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New Girl is my favorite sitcom about 20- and 30-somethings trying to figure it all out. It’s hilarious, has under-rated guest stars, and lots of heart.” —Melanie, 26

28. Tick, Tick…Boom! 

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“Despite the storyline being about a man who’s afraid of running out of time, there’s something about this movie that immediately makes me feel calm while watching it. Is it Andrew Garfield’s singing? Is it the soundtrack accompanying the story? I really can’t tell you. But clearly there’s something compelling about the movie, given how I’ve seen it four times since it premiered in mid-November. And I’ll probably watch it again when I’m stressed.” –A.F.

29. What a Girl Wants 

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Sometimes what you need is a really good movie—something meatier, with a proper buildup, conflict, and climax—to get you through the day or night. Besides, you deserve an hour or two of true relaxation, and setting aside a more solid chunk of self-care time when you’re feeling down is all the more important. Enter a work of pure cinema art you’re lucky to catch on Netflix: What a Girl Wants. A young Amanda Bynes plays a hippie teenager who finds out that her father (Colin Firth!) is a high-ranking government official in the U.K. She flies to London to meet him and is swept into the grand, British life he leads—all to his advisors’ dismay. This is a must-watch, and if you didn’t see it when it came out in 2003—as it is a peak 2003 movie—please so do stat. 

30. A Cinderella Story

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Another early-aughts classic, A Cinderella Story features yet another teen queen, Hilary Duff, and an epic ensemble cast: Chad Michael Murray, Jennifer Coolidge, and Regina King. The plot is exactly what you would think based on its name: A teen, left to live with her mean stepmother, gets her chance with her football star prince at the homecoming ball. It’s colorful, emotional, and utterly heart-warming.

31. Grown Ups 

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They say that laughter is the best medicine. Well, if you have a particularly goofy, family sense of humor, and want to cozy up for a movie, Grown Ups is very good medicine. It’s got an all-star cast and comes from the brain of Adam Sandler, who also stars in the flick. Fellow castmates include Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, and David Spade, the majority of whom are buddies from the SNL glory days. 

32. The Kominsky Method 

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Whether or not this will help you evade your stress will depend on what soothes you. If you’re dealing with a hearty dose of existentialist anxiety, perhaps you skip it. But if you are also a fan of Grace and Frankie, The Golden Girls, or any other show about getting older, this comedy-drama will warm your heart. I personally find comfort in stories about aging people; my motto is if they can get through it, then I can too. Alan Arkin, who has filmed the show throughout his mid-to-late 80s, and Michael Douglas play a pair of old, successful friends in Hollywood. It’s part voyeuristic—as you live vicariously through these two rich old men—but their friendship is sweet, and their grumpy personalities sweeter. 

33. I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson

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In bite-sized episodes (some as little as 12 minutes), comedian Tim Robinson delivers totally weird, totally absurd sketch comedy. It may take you a few episodes to really appreciate his comedic, erm, flavor, but if you’re into it, chances are you’ll be really into it with this fan favorite. 

34. Community

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Community, like many other overlooked sitcoms of the aughts, has regained popularity with its addition to the Netflix library. The all-star ensemble cast (Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Gillian Jacobs, Joel McHale, amongst others) plays a group of community college students. Of course, it’s hilarious. Think The Office, 30 Rock, etc. 

35. Fireplace for Your Home: Birchwood Edition

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Hear me out: A TV fireplace can go a long way in making your space more relaxing. Yes, it sounds corny. And yes, it’s obviously fake. But don’t knock it ‘til you try it: There’s something genuinely comforting about seeing it light up your room, even if you’re used to the real thing. So turn on your fire and take a deep breath.

36. Survivor

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“I started watching Survivor around Thanksgiving of 2020 (AKA, Hell Year). I’ve watched it before but never closely until Netflix threw a random season onto my radar. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. It may not seem like an obvious choice, since Survivor is full of physically stressful challenges and endless mind games, but I find that when I want to shut out the noise of the rest of my world, tuning into the antics of the island gives me something to become absorbed in. I enjoy getting to know the different competitors (who are actual, real people), and once you’ve watched enough seasons, you become attuned to the different approaches people take to ‘win’— or to outwit. Watching them manipulate others is fascinating, as is watching them attempt absurd puzzles and challenges (Eating bugs! Standing for hours! Crawling through dirt!) in order to secure blankets or firestarters or a piece of pizza. I don’t have to worry about anything else but what’s happening in this game, and when the season finishes, there are a gajillion more (on Hulu) to work my way through.” —Malia Griggs, commerce editor

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