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Entertainment Recs for Anxiety and Depression

One of my biggest struggles is how difficult I sometimes find it to concentrate on stories. When anxiety and depression are bad, we really need the distraction of some good entertainment, but concentrating can just seem to take too much energy and effort, even if it’s just casually watching a TV show.

So, with that in mind, here are some of my recommendations for low-concentration entertainment for low and anxious days.

Reading

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Graphic Novels. I only got into graphic novels last year, but they’re perfect for flying through a story. They’re easy to read, visually appealing, and you can read a whole trade paperback in less than an hour, so they don’t feel intimidating. Rat Queens is a good bet, as it has a fairly simple plot, great characters, and is lots of fun. I also recommend The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, because it is hilarious. (My full review for Rat Queens is here, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl here)

Novels are tougher, but I recommend some light and breezy contemporary fiction — something that’s easy to pick up and get invested in. I particularly love Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Video Games

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Stardew Valley. I specifically bought this game because of anxiety, when playing any sort of narrative-based game seemed like too much effort, and it is perfect. It’s basically Harvest Moon for the PC — a farming/life simulator game, where you get to grow crops, raise animals, clear out rocks, catch fish, and bribe an entire town into liking you with constant gifts. It’s highly addictive, but great for forgetting real life stress for a while.

Anything by Telltale Games. I especially recommend The Walking Dead, with the caveat that it’s not warm and happy and fluffy by any stretch of the imagination. But Telltale games combine the absorbing interactive element of a video game with the always-progressive narrative of TV or film, so you don’t have chance to get that “but I’m just running across a field” boredom. They pull you along with them. Plus, they’re just excellent stories.

Video

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Critical Role. This is wonderful, long, low-focus entertainment. It’s perfect for if things feel too quiet and you want some background entertainment, or if you just want to collapse on the sofa and regular TV seems like it takes too much effort to watch. It’s a really relaxed viewing experience, and really funny and compelling too. It carried me through a lot of this year so far. (The Youtube playlist is here, and my full review is here)

Youtube. Again, it provides great “low effort” entertainment, where you don’t need too much focus, and can even just put it on in the background. I enjoy Dan and Phil for quick fun videos, and I recommend their Undertale series for something longer and simultaneously light and absorbing.

I also recommend Sharla in Japan, and her vlogging channel Sharmander, for fun videos about life in Japan, doddlevloggle, for the casual chatty vlogging channel of awesome Youtube musician Dodie Clark, BananaJamana, who does absolutely AMAZING Disney and Nintendo themed art, and Bry and Candice, who are trying to travel to every country in the world and are generally chill and lovely to watch.

Gilmore Girls. For the three people in the world who’ve never seen it, and for anyone who hasn’t rewatched it in a while. It’s a wonderfully cheering and comforting show, like a warm blanket and a delicious mug of hot chocolate, but in television form.

And those are the things I’ve been living off recently! But what about you guys? What do you like to watch and read when feeling low? Please share any recommendations in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Rhiannon

Rhiannon Thomas is the author of A WICKED THING and KINGDOM OF ASHES. She lives in York, England.

7 thoughts on “Entertainment Recs for Anxiety and Depression

  1. I hate those times. When I’m in this mood, I can’t start anything new. I’m fine with a new episode of a TV show I’m already watching, but a new TV show or a movie is out of the question. I’ve abandoned so many movies after just 10-20 minutes because sometimes getting invested in brand new characters takes too much effort.

    I think all kinds of entertainment that target younger audiences are relatively easy to get into. Some animated shows are great. I think you still haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender and the sequel, Legend of Korra. Both are amazing and easy to watch. Also, I’m not very knowledgeable about Anime, but the few things I’ve seen have all been very good. I recently watched The Rose of Versailles, which is from the 70s, and while you have to overlook some ridiculous elements (which are more charming than annoying), it’s fun and offers surprisingly deep explorations of gender, while remaining light at the same time.

    I also find musicals easier to get into. It’s somehow easier to concentrate on a movie when it comes with music and singing even if it’s not a light one. A lesser known musical I recently saw is The Last Five Years, and even though it’s about a couple breaking up – not the most cheerful of topics – I found it really easy to get into. Of course, happier musicals are even easier. And musical plus animation is the best combination, which makes Disney movies just perfect for low-concentration days.

    Youtube is always an option. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Princess Rap Battles. Galadriel vs. Leia is probably my favorite, but all are fun and very, very low effort entertainment.

    And since I happen to be one of the three people in the world who’ve never seen Gilmore Girls, I really need to get to it. It’s been on my to-watch list since forever, but for some reason, I never happen to get there.

    1. I’m exactly the same. I was watching Kimmy Schmidt recently, and then got completely stuck, because getting invested in another show seemed like far too much effort. But I do really need to get around to Avatar. There’s something about cartoons that makes them easier to step into as well.

      And I’m a big fan of The Last Five Years. Still need to watch the movie version, though…

  2. I read some of the old books I read when I was younger. Nostalgia purposes. I love the Chrestomanci books by Diana Wynne Jones, lighthearted family romps like “The Penderwicks”. It’s like reuniting with old childhood friends in the familiar and lovely characters.

    When I’m sad, music cheers me up. “Hamilton”, of course! I listen to a musical over and over again, so even if I didn’t understand what was going on at first I figure it out and really get into it. Having something to focus on helps get through the depression and anxiety.

    Minecraft. Just day to day exploring and farming that strange, blocky world really calms me down.

    1. YES to Hamilton! I only discovered it about a month ago, and I am completely obsessed.

      And I really should try Minecraft some day. I’ve never played it, but I’m always a fan of “explore and slowly build something” games.

  3. I haven’t been following you since mid April (or something) as I was writing papers for uni and couldn’t stand serious albeit brilliant blogging. And now I come back and you have written about ALL my favourite things? Critical Role, The Fifth Season and more. I feel super blessed to come back to all that. It’s been tons of fun to plough through your blog today, thank you :)

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