When I’m having a bad pain day, dealing with bone-deep fatigue, or just need to feel safe, I look for a calming movie to watch. They’re the kind of movies that you can nap to, if you wanted to. No alarming soundtrack music swells out of nowhere. Though there is conflict, it’s light enough that it doesn’t stress you out.
Usually I look for children’s and family movies—something immersive and soothing. Romances and dramas are good, too. I look at the movie art and description. If the colors are soft or pastel, it’ll be calming—something I can nap to. If they’re bright, chances are it will be a relaxing experience that I can almost fall into.
When I can’t find something new, I have a few go to movies from my childhood.
On his birthday, a man is struck by a strange light and develops extraordinary abilities.
Though there are a few exciting moments, you can easily lie down and relax. Just a heads up: though Phenomenon is a bit tragic, it ends on a happy note.
The Dark Crystal
The last two Gelflings embark on a quest to repair the Dark Crystal and save the world.
I remember watching this on rainy days as a small child. The Skeksis scared the crap out of me back then, but since it’s become a staple. It’s a colorful movie set in a fantasy world, and few things are more calming to me.
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
A trio of pets get separated from their humans and decide to find their own way home.
I may or may not have watched this 1,900 times as a kid. Shadow, Chance, and Sassy made me desperately want a pet, and Sassy made me fall in love with cats. “No, dummy dummy dummy.” 😂 I think there are two moments in this entire movie where your heart rate kicks up, and everything turns out all right in the end anyway.
The Secret Garden
When an orphaned girl comes to stay with her uncle in his manor, she discovers a secret garden—and the key to restoring her family.
Here’s another movie from my childhood. Are you noticing a pattern? Though there are some sad undertones, The Secret Garden is visually stunning with all of its beautiful landscapes, and there are few loud moments.
A Little Princess
A young girl becomes a servant at her boarding school when her father goes missing.
Another movie based on a Frances Hodgson-Burnett book, and also one of my all-time favorites from childhood. Sarah’s stories alone are super soothing. I wish someone had the foresight to hire that kid to record audiobooks. Even though there are a couple sad moments, this is another movie that has a happy ending.
Each of these has a bit of a fantasy element to it, most of them are children’s movies, and all of them were filmed in the ’80s and ’90s but have an evergreen feel. There’s no distinct decade music (though the score from The Dark Crystal is admittedly pretty ’80s).
Unfortunately none of these are on Netflix or Amazon Prime at the moment, but they’re worth renting or owning.
What are your favorite movies for R&R? Let me know in the comments!