During trying times, many of us like to get our minds off the real world by escaping into a favorite movie. While some of your favorites may make you laugh or cry, we would like to provide you with our list of movies that may help you unwind or relax.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Relaxing Movies to Help Ease Your Anxiety
- Relaxing Movies to Fall Asleep To
- Relaxing Movies for Kids or Toddlers
- Relaxing Family Movies
- Relaxing Disney Movies
- Relaxing Romantic Movies
- Relaxing Fantasy Movies
The world is already full of too much drama and suspense. If a loved one is struggling with a tough time, consider sending over a self-care gift basket with one of these soothing movies to pop in and a blanket for them to snuggle under.
Relaxing Movies to Help Ease Your Anxiety
You may not agree with all the movies on our list, but it may help you think about what films you turn to when you need to unwind. What titles would you give as a relaxation gift for a friend who was going through a difficult time?
Here are some picks that may help you breathe easier.
1. Sense and Sensibility
To be fair, almost any authentic Jane Austin adaptation would put most people at ease. Even though Austin’s stories are full of drama, the characters discuss these issues in idyllic natural backgrounds, hardly ever raising their voices.
Led by the stellar casting of Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet living as two sisters of three sisters in an English cottage, Sense and Sensibility is a sweet movie that can help you ease your troubled mind.
2. My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding
In most romantic movies, a couple meets and then goes on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, leaving the viewer to wonder if they will get together in the end. This isn’t true for My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding.
We know that Toula and Ian will end up with each other in the end, but we aren’t sure what kind of chaos her family will cause along the way.
3. Say Anything
This story of first love contains the iconic scene of John Cusack holding up a radio outside of his love interest’s home. Yes, you know Say Anything by heart. That’s why it’s on this list. It doesn’t require any thought.
4. Mamma Mia
Can someone experience stress while listening to Abba? It’s just not possible. The music and gorgeous natural setting of Mamma Mia (and don't forget Mamma Mia 2!) will surely lower your blood pressure as you watch.
5. A Walk in the Clouds
While the plot of A Walk in the Clouds may not be memorable, chances are many may remember the scene when everyone waves enormous butterfly wings near burning torches to try to save the grapes from an early frost.
Skip the movie and look up this scene on YouTube if you need to relax. Also, check out Keanu Reeves's just-as-endearing film The Lake House.
6. Some Like it Hot
If you are looking for a genuinely relaxing movie, consider those made in the 1950s. That generation of moviemakers knew how to create films to help people escape from their everyday lives.
Marilyn Monroe stars in this classic, Some Like It Hot. You should also check out any movie with Rock Hudson and Doris Day as anxiety-fighting movies.
7. Bridget Jones’s Diary
You can’t get too worked up when watching Bridget Jones's Diary. Yes, there’s a fight scene, but the two characters pause in mid-fight to apologize to diners in the restaurant and sing happy birthday as a giant Parthenon cake is brought out of a kitchen.
8. A League of Their Own
What’s not to love about A League of Their Own? Even non-sports fans can find the charm in this (there’s no crying in) baseball movie.
9. Best in Show
Schitt’s Creek fans can have another opportunity to see Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as husband and wife in Best in Show. Even if the dog owners and handlers cause you some stress, you can always watch the movie on mute and enjoy looking at the awesome pups.
Relaxing Movies to Fall Asleep To
If you recently lost a loved one, you may have trouble falling asleep. Here are some movies that may help you with your self-care and grief (at least for a few moments) so you can fall asleep.
10. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Otherwise, you can drift off to sleep as Frodo and his gang are walking. Chances are they will still be on their journey when you wake up in the morning.
11. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The good thing about falling asleep to this movie is that you avoid the plot falling apart in the end. Until then, the rhythmic clacking of coconuts may help you drift off to dreamland.
12. The Hundred-Foot Journey
Many of you may not have heard of The Hundred-Foot Journey since it is certainly not a classic, but its plot involves two competing restaurants in France.
If the Great British Baking Show leaves you feeling relaxed, you may also enjoy watching people chop, dice, and saute in The Hundred-Foot Journey.
Regardless of the plot, Castaway is a quiet movie. You’ll hear the rhythmic sound of the waves interspersed with a little dialog between Tom Hanks and a volleyball. You’re probably nodding off just thinking about it, aren’t you?
The sweet piano soundtrack for this French film continues to enchant fans of this story of a shy do-gooder. One reviewer complimented Amelie for its “airy, whimsical charm.” It sounds like a winner for helping you destress and fall asleep.
15. The Biggest Little Farm
This documentary, released in 2018, tells the story of a couple who leave the city and purchase a farm in California. Even though the movie is far from boring, its rural scenery may help you drift asleep with somewhat pleasant dreams.
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
There’s nothing more comforting for Potterheads than to watch the first film in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Yes, there’s some action, but most of this movie is spent providing the background for the magical world that is hidden from view from most muggles.
The dark lighting and the soothing British voices will lull you to sleep way before Professor Quirrell unwraps his turban from his head.
17. White Christmas
You’ve probably seen White Christmas dozens of times, so you won’t need to stay up to see what happens to General Waverly’s inn. In the meantime, you may drift asleep hearing the crooning voice of Bing Crosby.
18. Princess Bride
The action of The Princess Bride is interrupted with scenes of a grandpa telling a bedtime story to his grandson. Use this relaxing movie as your bedtime story, and you will dream of princesses and clergymen with speech impediments.
Relaxing Movies for Kids or Toddlers
If you are a parent trying to put a kid to bed, you know what movies to avoid showing to your child. It might not be a good idea to inspire a singalong of Aladdin, Despicable Me, or any of the Lego movies. Instead, here are some more relaxing titles that may help your kiddos drift off to sleep.
19. Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out
A Grand Day Out is a grand choice of a “going to sleep movie.” The characters were created using claymation. And as Gromit doesn’t speak, you’re kids will only hear the soothing British voice of Wallace, his owner.
Also check out the rest of the collection!
20. Winnie the Pooh
Simply hearing the words Winnie the Pooh makes you a little drowsy, doesn’t it? A.A. Milne’s uncomplicated plots and slow pace are perfect shows to help your kids fall asleep.
Now, if there was only something we could do about that bouncy, bouncy Tigger who is always riling things up.
Your little one may have a difficult time staying up while listening to the soothing music of Tchaikovsky as well as the beautiful Ave Maria in Fantasia. Best to shut it off before the music really ramps up in the last fourth.
22. The Wizard of Oz
Granted, we don’t want your children to have nightmares about tornados or flying monkeys, but chances are they will fall asleep as soon as Judy Garland starts to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz.
This animated masterpiece has cute moments for your kids and a fantastic plot for you. There are long stretches without dialogue in Up, but be careful. Your kids may wake up to the sounds of your sobbing.
24. Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web is the classic story of a pig named Wilbur and his spider friend, Charlotte. Your kids will relax watching the farm animals interact, and they will drift away, imagining life on a farm.
25. The Little Bear Movie
The background music of The Little Bear Movie is incredibly soothing as the wholesome characters of the PBS series run around onscreen. Even if wayward Little Bear ends up in a difficult situation, rest assured that he will find a way out thanks to his friends.
26. Disney’s Oceans
Some parents use sound machines to help their children fall asleep. Perhaps the Disney movie Oceans could do the trick in a pinch.
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27. The Secret Garden
A British estate with a secret garden is the setting of The Secret Garden based on the novel by the same name. Your children would be interested in the plot, but the slow parts in the middle may cause them to fall asleep.
28. Planet Earth
Consider carefully which episodes of Planet Earth you show to your children if you wish them to fall asleep. Some show animals acting like wild animals and will do nothing to soothe your own little wild animals.
Relaxing Family Movies
After a stressful week of work and school, there’s nothing better than having a relaxing movie night at home with the family. Here are some titles to consider – depending on the age of your child.
Hopefully, a movie that features a talking pig will get your mind off a busy week at work. Babe is entertaining and also sends a positive message about perseverance and friendship. It’s considered one of the best family movies of all time.
30. The Sound of Music
Yes, we understand that at its core, the plot of The Sound of Music is anything but relaxing. However, the gorgeous scenery, the love story, and all of that beautiful music soften the realities of war.
31. March of the Penguins
Grab a blanket before sitting down to watch March of the Penguins with your family. Since the entire documentary is shot from the Antarctic shore in Antarctica, you’ll want to cuddle with your kiddos to stay warm. Because March of the Penguins is a documentary about animals in nature, it features scenes where the animals are in peril.
32. The Muppet Movie
This 1979 classic may look a bit dated for modern audiences’ tastes. However, Generation Xers will love watching this blast from the past as they share it with children and grandchildren. After watching The Muppet Movie, you and your family can debate the best muppet of all time – which is, of course, Fozzie Bear.
33. Little Women
There have been quite a few movie versions of Little Women, but we really like the most recent one with Emma Watson. This American classic covers many discussion-worthy topics, including how the role of women has changed over time.
If you are constantly battling with your family between watching sports and watching movies, compromise by watching one of the most inspirational sports movies of all time – Rudy. This movie can also be categorized as one of the best movies about an underdog.
35. The Sandlot
Set in the early 1960s, The Sandlot is about growing up and the love of a game. It features the often-quoted line, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”
36. Mary Poppins
You can’t have a list of relaxing movies for families without including this all-time classic. Mary Poppins features great costumes and fantastic music, including “Jolly Holiday,” “Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Chim Chim Cher–ee.”
37. Anne of Green Gables
Like Little Women, there are several movie and TV versions of Anne of Green Gables. This story about an orphan was written in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
38. Cool Runnings
While this movie about a Jamaican bobsled team didn’t come close to winning the Best Picture Award, it’s definitely a feel-good relaxing movie that your family can chill out to on a Friday night.
39. My Fair Lady
Prove to your kids that old movies aren’t always dull. My Fair Lady is about a snotty professor who claims that he can transform a young, poor girl into one who can blend in with those in high society. Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn star in this classic.
Relaxing Disney Movies
We have already featured several Disney movies on our list. However, here is a special shout-out to some more relaxing Disney movies. Of course, we know some of the Disney plots aren’t always “relaxing.” And some may feature characters who have been orphaned, which seems to be a classic Disney subplot. However, if you wish to spend an evening being entertained with a nostalgic movie, you can’t go wrong with one of these titles.
40. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
This Disney classic was based on a novel written by Ian Flemming, the writer of the James Bond series. However, while the 007 movies may cause you to sit on the edge of your seat, you can relax by watching this classic from the late 1960s.
Moana features the voice of The Rock – and he sings! Plus, it’s a great story with an inspiring female main character. Oh, and did we mention that it features The Rock? Who doesn’t love The Rock?
42. The Shaggy Dog
Somehow, the Disney studios made a movie – about a man turning into a dog – work. You might want to have a movie marathon of Shaggy movies by watching the follow-up called The Shaggy D.A.
43. Beauty and the Beast
Maybe it’s time to rewatch Beauty and the Beast with your family. Belle is the princess of choice for all kids who are told to “put their books down” during math class at school.
44. Pirates of the Caribbean
Even though it’s never been one of my favorites, it seems that Pirates of the Caribbean movies are the “Disney movies of choice” for many.
This Disney classic may inspire you to take a road trip across the American southwest. However, while this movie has exciting moments that aren’t relaxing, you won’t have to worry that a hunter will shoot the main character’s mom.
46. Freaky Friday
If you are having a hard time connecting with your preteen, consider sitting together to watch one of the versions of Freaky Friday. This movie about a mom and teenage girl switching bodies may encourage you to look at the world from another person’s perspective for a while.
47. The Princess Diaries
We know that this is the third movie on our list that features Julie Andrews. However, we love this movie about a young girl who suddenly discovers she is a princess for a small European principality.
48. Remember the Titans
We love Disney’s inspirational sports films. This one stars Denzel Washington, who plays an African-American coach who leads a newly racially integrated team.
It doesn’t sound like it should work – a movie about a rat chef. In fact, those two words together may make you feel queasy. However, Ratatouille has turned into one of those movies that you will always watch when the opportunity arises.
50. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
This movie (and the experience at Disney World) is simply good, clean fun. See what the world would look like if you were shrunk to the size of an ant when you watch this classic.
Relaxing Romantic Movies
It seems as if most romantic movies have an arc in the plot where the viewer isn’t sure if the couple will really get together. Here are some relaxing romantic movies that won’t leave you hanging too long.
Even though modern audiences may find parts of this movie problematic, you can’t help but want to see Sandy and Danny get together in the end. Plus, you can’t be anything but relaxed when you sing along to this fantastic soundtrack.
52. Sleepless in Seattle
This movie features Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan at their best. What makes this movie special is that the main characters hardly ever share the same scene. But when they finally meet – it’s magic.
53. When Harry Met Sally
Everything about this movie is great. It features sharp writing, great acting, and a fantastic soundtrack. We especially love the features of the real-life couples that are scattered throughout the film. This movie deserves a rewatch at least once a year.
54. Pride and Prejudice
There are many different film versions of this Jane Austen novel. However, if you have the time, watch the miniseries featuring Colin Firth.
55. Groundhog Day
This movie may not have jumped out at you as being a romance, but we think it belongs on this list as one of the most relaxing romantic comedies of all time.
How many times have you seen Clueless? This movie is always there for you if you have a bad day. You’ll feel better watching Cher’s transformation from a bratty teen to one who isn’t quite as bratty.
57. There’s Something About Mary
Even though this movie has several cringe-worthy scenes, there’s something special about this movie. Maybe it’s Cameron Diaz, or perhaps it’s that you are rooting for Ben Stiller to win the girl.
58. Legally Blonde
There’s more to this movie than the romantic subplot. However, Legally Blonde is always there for you when you need a movie to watch while you chill after a rough week. Of course, you can also have a movie marathon and watch Legally Blonde 2.
59. Maid in Manhattan
A senatorial candidate falls for a maid in his Manhattan hotel when he mistakenly thinks she’s a socialite. You might be surprised to hear that this is a John Hughes movie.
60. Just Wright
You might like this movie about a physical therapist who falls in love with a professional basketball player she is treating.
61. Dirty Dancing
Yes, there are moments in this movie that aren’t very relaxing. However, the ending dance scene will undoubtedly put you in a good mood.
Even if this famous book and movie series makes you cringe, you will enjoy watching this on a rainy Saturday afternoon. This might lead a list called “relaxing romantic movies that you secretly love.”
63. Meet the Patels
You’ll love this documentary/romance about the Indian dating scene. You’ll learn about arranged marriages and the difficulties of maneuvering between two cultures from this unique film.
Relaxing Fantasy Movies
What’s more relaxing than the idea of escaping to another world? So here are some relaxing fantasy movies.
64. Lord of the Rings
You could argue that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is anything but relaxing. However, anyone who sits through a late showing of The Fellowship of the Ring in a warm room is going to fall asleep – guaranteed.
65. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Again, this movie isn’t always relaxing, and many categorize it as an “action” movie instead of a “fantasy.” However, the otherworldliness of this movie may leave you more relaxed than watching a typical action-packed film.
66. Big Fish
This movie features big stars and is about a frustrated son who tries to distinguish fact from fiction in his dying father’s life.
67. Star Wars: A New Hope
It’s tricky finding “relaxing” fantasy movies. Even though there’s a lot of action in each of the Star Wars movies, you probably have seen it so many times that you aren’t sitting at the edge of your seat, wondering what’s going to happen.
68. The Life of Pi
Viewers seem to have a love/hate relationship with this movie. And then others don’t want to admit they simply don’t know what the heck is going on about a boy, a boat, and a tiger.
69. Pete’s Dragon
Take your pick – both versions of Pete’s Dragon are terrific. The original version has made people smile for decades.
70. Edward Scissorhands
Here’s another movie for which you probably wish you could have been in the meeting when movie executives discussed the title and plot.
71. Alice in Wonderland
This movie, based on the book by Lewis Carroll, takes you down the rabbit hole into a world populated with extraordinary creatures.
Do yourself a favor and read the novel that this film was based on – The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Then, after you read this exquisitely illustrated book, watch the movie full of adventure, secret hiding spaces, and wonderful machines.
73. The Never Ending Story
A boy reading a magic book becomes part of a fantasy world in this classic film.
74. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
We prefer the older version of this classic story, but the novel by Roald Dahl is the best of all.
This film, directed by Jim Henson, may not be relaxing to a first-time viewer. However, if you are looking for a movie to directly transport yourself back to your childhood, this may be it.
76. The Dark Crystal
The tagline for this movie is “Another World. Another Time. In the Age of Wonder.” Jim Henson and Frank Oz directed this movie from the early 1980s.
77. The Goonies
The Goonies as a relaxing fantasy movie? We say, “Yes!” You’ll find the movie-watching experience relaxing because you’ll probably be able to speak the lines with the actors as you watch.
What Movies Calm You or Your Kids?
What movies calm you when it seems as if nothing is going your way? While the above-mentioned list may be a start, we assume that everyone’s list would be different.
Perhaps you turn to your favorite musical. Maybe you pop on your favorite comedy that you have seen so often you know the words by heart. Some people don’t enjoy movies and instead feel most relaxed watching The Great British Baking Show.
What’s on your list?