The Best Comfort Shows For Bad Mental Health Days

Nikki McCaig
9 min readMay 3, 2023
(Screenshot of an episode of Superstore)

There are lots of things in life that can cause us to feel stressed, anxious, depressed or low, and taking care of your mental health is an important part of maintaining good health overall. And sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can all have days where our mental health just gets the better of us. Our brains need time to rest, recover and feel safe in our own space for a while. Everyone deserves a little time to curl up on the sofa, grab a comfy blanket and just binge-watch some great, low-stress tv shows.

So if you’re going through it right now and need to deep dive into someone else’s world for a while, I’ve picked out the 10 best shows to help you out:

Community

This cult classic of a show from NBC is the perfect accompaniment for a low mental health day. Sharing the collective experiences of a group of lovable, diverse community college students as they try to graduate, Community offers reliable comedy, hits some great emotional notes and is undeniably quick to pick up for first-time watchers. With tonnes of self-aware inside jokes and running gags to spot, it’s a great watch for eagle-eyed viewers to enjoy and knows exactly how to make fun of itself along the way.

Plus, for anyone who has gone through a rough patch, an era of significant change or had to start life again from scratch, this show serves as the perfect reminder that you are not alone — everyone makes mistakes, everyone has struggles, everyone has things in their past they regret. But it’s always possible to start again and change your path for the better!

Watch When: You need a reminder that life can always begin again, and that there’s always more room to grow.

Superstore

If your idea of a comfort show is one about highly successful entrepreneurs, businesspeople and breadwinners — Superstore probably isn’t the one for you. On the other hand, if you like seeing a group of ordinary box store workers turning up for chaotic, unpredictable and hilarious shifts, escapades and adventures — Superstore is perfect. Bingeable, lovable and addictive, this easy-going show sums up the experiences of retail workers from around the world, dealing with ridiculous customers, break room dramas, incompetent upper management and the slow slog of a quiet shift.

Although the scripts take on some serious issues along the way, from divorce and poverty to immigration and racism, Superstore is consistently familiar, safe and friendly — no problem is too big for these long-standing coworkers to overcome. With a reliable setting for you to immerse yourself in and the comforting reminder that joy can be found even in the most mundane and unexpected of circumstances, it’s a show designed to make you smile.

Watch When: You’re stressed at work, your anxiety is high and you want something low-stress and entertaining to binge.

Euphoria

If things are piling up around you and all you want is to escape, Euphoria might be the right show for you. Whilst it should be said that the show tackles some very sensitive topics, including sexual assault, abortion, gun violence and drug addiction, it’s a very real show that many of those who have gone through periods of poor mental health will relate to.

Almost every character in Euphoria goes through some form of mental health struggle throughout the course of the show and it won’t be hard to find a storyline you identify with as the episodes progress. With addiction, bipolar, OCD, low self-esteem, anger issues, social anxiety and panic attacks all covered over the show’s two-season span, it’s a great reminder that you’re not alone in your struggle.

Watch When: You need to escape into something authentic and real.

Pure

For those who haven’t heard of the show Pure, it’s an explorative Channel 4 drama-comedy set around the concept of Pure OCD. Showcasing the journey of a young woman in London struggling to understand her symptoms and eventual diagnosis, it’s an accurate and entertaining portrayal of the reality of OCD.

Taking the OCD stereotype and absolutely demolishing it, this show perfectly encapsulates the real symptoms and issues faced by OCD sufferers, without making them cheap or overdramatic. With an amazing cast and some great comedic moments, it’s a comforting and authentic take on making something beautiful out of something painful.

Watch When: You want to explore your mental health and feel heard.

Fleabag

Another staple of British TV, Fleabag tells the story of a woman in London enduring heartbreak, love, a dysfunctional family and questionable relationships with almost everyone around her — through the brilliant mind of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Although the show is generally light in tone, as the episodes go on, more and more is revealed about the darker elements of Fleabag’s life — her grief over losing her mother, the circumstances leading up to the suicide of her best friend, her financial struggles…

But the beauty of Fleabag is that no matter what you’re going through or have gone through, something in the will inevitably call out to you. Whether it be a single line, a certain look to the camera, a particular storyline or even just a sudden beat that hits a little too close to home — there is something in the show that makes it so universally relatable, that it’s impossible not to love.

Watch When: You want to lose yourself in the beauty of someone else’s struggle.

Ted Lasso

One of the newer shows in this collection, Ted Lasso tells the story of an optimistic American football coach heading over to England to manage a failing London team — and hilarity ensues. Transcontinental jokes are shared, the stiff British upper lip is steadily weakened under Ted’s blazing warm personality and there are enough memorable cast members to make you go ‘Oh I know them!’ every five minutes. But the beauty of Ted Lasso is simply Ted himself — one of the best TV show characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch.

As a character, Ted is warm, friendly, quick and positive. His relentless optimism and cheer are impossibly comforting to watch and the show feels like a big warm hug to settle into after a long day. But as the season goes on, it also begins to explore a much more relevant topic, in the form of Ted’s anxiety and panic attacks. The beauty of this plotline lies in the fact that even the happiest, friendliest and warmest character can struggle with their mental health, and can fight the same fight as the rest of us, in trying to feel better again.

Watch When: You need someone to cheer on and feel supported by.

The Office (US)

An entirely uninspired choice, I know, but there’s just something so comforting and wholesome about the first few seasons of The Office that just feels like coming home for me. The seasons before everyone had their lives figured out, when everything was just that little bit grainier and washed out and outdated — that’s the stuff you need when your brain needs a break. The Office’s biggest success is its sheer relatability, with so many of us having worked or spent time in a standard office environment before. We can all relate to the awkward boss-employee chats, the fights over parking spaces and dirty microwaves, the endless meetings, co-worker crushes and dodgy team-building exercises. We know what it’s like to watch the clock tick by and wait for something, anything, interesting to happen to make time go faster. It’s life as we’ve known it on screen.

But The Office is also great because its formula feels contained and safe for so many of the episodes. As a viewer, we have ten seasons to really get to know each and every character, we know the layout of the building, we can recognise the carpet in the meeting room and we know which desk belongs to which employee. We can tell whose mug is whose from a single, simple glance and how they take their coffee. We’re part of that family and the things they go through mean as much to them as they do to us — it’s a great show for those looking to feel part of something again.

Watch When: You want to feel some comforting, safe, nostalgic warmth.

Clarkson’s Farm

Ok, hear me out on this one. I know Clarkson has done and said a LOT of things that I and many others do not agree with…but Clarkson’s Farm is still one of the best shows to hit Amazon Prime in years. A documentary showing Jeremy’s journey to own and run his very own farm, the series shows the highs and lows of British farming, taking the audience through the realities and ugly side of being a farmer in 2023. Brilliantly edited, funny, emotional and light, the show doesn’t gloss over the controversies of Clarkson’s character. Instead, it embeds them into his journey and his struggles to make a name for himself in the industry.

With two seasons available to watch, it’s a great show to settle into and binge on a bad day, as you let yourself escape into the rural British countryside and swap your struggles for those of sheep, seeds and sowing for a few hours.

Watch When: Your mind wants to escape to the countryside and feel close to nature.

Shameless US

Looking at your life and feeling like it isn’t quite going the way you planned? Shameless is the perfect show to help ease that anxiety. With an endless array of misfit characters from the very bottom of society, the US Shameless series is a great watch to help remind you of exactly what you have and where you are in life. Featuring the large, chaotic and occasionally criminal Gallager family, the show highlights their struggles to make money, hold down jobs, keep their family together and survive whatever life throws their way.

The reason Shameless is such a great comfort show is that it doesn’t put too much pressure on its characters to do ‘amazing’ ‘incredible’ or ‘mindblowing’ things. The goals the characters have are realistic and achievable. They do what they can to survive and they make A LOT of mistakes along the way. They find small moments of happiness whenever they can and they understand each other’s problems and issues. From coping with bipolar, unwanted pregnancies, criminal charges, neglect and poverty, these characters go through a lot and watching them face them head-on is a great way to boost your own self-confidence.

Watch When: You need to be reminded of the good things in your life and the importance of community.

Derry Girls

Finally, let’s talk about Derry Girls. A wonderful warm cup-of-tea of a show with an incredible cast — set in Northern Ireland at the very height of the Troubles. Sharing the lives of a group of teens living in Derry, this incredible comedy is the perfect binge-watch for any bad mental health day. With so much clever and brilliant humour, it’s a breath of fresh air in the comedy scene and is a wonderful home-from-home series to sink your teeth into.

As the series goes on, the backdrop of The Troubles leaves space for some great moments of emotion and the friendship built between the five main cast members is full of warmth, laughter and exasperation as they begin to explore adult life. A wholesome and comforting family show, it’s such a cosy watch and will have you feeling calm and content in no time.

Watch When: You need to feel like you’re part of a family.

Taking some time out for our mental health can be a truly beneficial act and resting our minds and our bodies can have some really great health benefits. If you’re struggling with your mental health right now, it’s so important to take some time and give your brain a chance to breathe. There’s a lot happening in the world right now and whatever you’re feeling is ok — there will always be someone out there who can help.

Help & Advice:

https://www.mind.org.uk/

--

--

Nikki McCaig

Freelance Social Media Manager, Coffee-Drinker Email me at: nikki.j.mccaig@gmail.com for chats ’n’ stuff!