calming movies for anxiety

Six Calming Movies For Anxiety Relief – Dramas and Docs

Here we go: it’s time to walk you through six different calming movies for anxiety relief, all based on our own preferences and our own experiences of watching these movies. 

We’ve got some great picks for ya today, and we hope that at least one of these films gives you the sense of calm that you’re looking for. 

Also, every time that we talk about media that potentially has positive effects on viewers, it’s basically a requirement for us to stress that we’re not trying to deliver medical advice here. 

If you find that you’re really struggling with stress and/or anxiety, to the point where it’s getting in the way of your normal daily life, then please consider seeking professional help. 

Calming movies or video games aren’t a permanent solution to these issues, but they can be helpful in the short-term. 

Our only other word of warning that we want to share here is that some of these movies do indeed cover serious topics and themes, so if you’re worried that you’ll react negatively to those moments in each respective movie, please consider carefully before starting them up for a watch session.

Ok, that’s the boring stuff out of the way. Here are some incredibly calm movies to sink your impeccable teeth into. 

Drive My Car (2021) 

The most recently released movie of the bunch, Drive My Car, a lengthy drama from Japan, actually handles some heavy subject matter. 

Specifically, the movie focuses quite a bit on grief and moving forward after the death of a loved one or even a not-so-loved one.

That might sound much too serious to offer any sense of calm, but this movie, especially after the first forty-five minutes or so, takes on a lovely, slow pace that lasts basically right up to the end.

It’s a contemplative movie where music is used sparingly but to great effect. At moments, the sound cuts out entirely, leaving the viewer alone with the characters and their surroundings. 

Especially on repeat viewings, Drive My Car is a supremely calm movie that can totally change your mood. 

A Ghost Story (2017)

This movie was sort of destined to become an obscure indie gem. It was low-budget to begin with, and even back in its release year, A Ghost Story didn’t attract much attention outside of dedicated cinephile communities.

The premise is simple: a man dies young (don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom) and spends the rest of his time as a ghost. We watch as he stays tied to a particular piece of land through many eras of history, and we watch him watching the lives of others play out. 

Another wonderful example of the power of slow, careful pacing, the movie settles into one major groove and stays there for most of the runtime.

Also, the abstract feel of the latter part of the movie can help keep you engaged, or, on the other hand, let you relax and simply focus on the visuals.

When Marnie Was There (2014)

A Studio Ghibli movie that’s not nearly as well-known as the all-time greats, When Marnie Was There is a story about two girls. Well, more accurately, it’s about two girls from two completely different time periods.

There are slightly strange elements to the plot, but the overall atmosphere and dedication to pleasant visuals makes this a very breezy watch. 

It might even get you thinking about the sea, about that one trip when you took a chance on a yellow hat from a gift shop that you loved so much you lost it on the last day so it wouldn’t be stained with mundane memories back home.

Ida (2013)

Acclaimed director Paweł Pawlikowski won an Oscar for Ida, the story of a woman who’s about to become a Catholic nun before hearing that she’s actually probably Jewish.

From a certain angle, it might even sound like a comedy setup, but trust us when we say that Ida is a thoughtful and toned-down movie about a person coming to terms with who she really is.

Like most of the movies on this list, Ida is a very slow-paced film, and you have to be ok with the grayscale color grading, but if you give this movie some of your time, it’s probably going to suck you in and hold on until the credits start to roll.

Beginners (2010)

Sort of kind of based on a true story, Beginners was a pretty big hit when it was originally released, but in the years since, it doesn’t seem to get talked about all that much.

A professional artist is surprised to hear that his elderly father has come out of the closet. At the same time, our lead character is trying to find stability in his own romantic life. 

It’s certainly a gentle movie, and it’s yet another entry on the list that handles hard-hitting stuff with subtlety and skill. 

Beginners is a nice calm watch that might have you looking at your own life and relationships differently.

Sweetgrass (2009)

Ahhh, Sweetgrass. We’ve talked about this movie a number of times here on the site, and a big reason for that is just how unique this film is.

Sweetgrass is meant to be an immersive documentary experience. There’s no narration here or even interviews with the people we see on screen. 

It’s a movie about sheep herding, and sheep herding is basically the only thing that happens in the movie. 

It’s hard to explain exactly why this movie works, but it does work, and we also happen to think that it’s the most calming movie we’ve mentioned here in the article. 
Unfortunately, tracking down this movie on a streaming service is a bit difficult. It occasionally shows up on the Criterion Channel, the official streaming service of the Criterion Collection, but outside of that, you’ll probably be looking at some kind of premium subscription option.

Still, go ahead and check out the trailer for Sweetgrass and get a taste of the overall vibe. You might just find that it’s something you really want to seek out.  


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