The best TV box sets to help you de-stress and unwind

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha
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Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, Narcos, Making a Murderer - the last 12 months have been phenomenal in the TV stakes. We've been left awestruck, tense and begging for more. 

But sometimes this edge-of-your-seat viewing doesn't quite cut it, at the end of a long, hard day.

There are some shows that are the equivalent of a warm bath, a giant cup of hot chocolate or a friend popping around and snuggling under a blanket with you, while you devour a giant bag of crisps. They're soothing for the soul. 

We take a look at the TV shows that have helped us unwind, de-stress and switch off over the years. Dig in and get set to relaaax...

  • Gilmore Girls

    It's like: sipping a creamy hot chocolate while tucked under an old patchwork blanket.

    Summary: Lightning-quick sarcasm, mile-a-minute banter and the most endearing mother-daughter relationship on television: Gilmore Girls is the antidote to any dose of stress.  

    It’s set in Stars Hollow, a small and innocent town in Connecticut, which means there are no hideous deaths (spoiler alert: apart from Cinnamon the cat), panic-inducing plot turns or unnerving personalities. Just a community of wonderful characters that you will grow to love and call your own. 

    Watch on Netlfix or buy the complete boxset, £40,

    Netflix’s four-episode revival Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life will be released on 25 November. 

  • Friends

    It's like: that feeling after you've been laughing for 20 minutes straight. You’re smiling and the world feels like a great place to be.

    Summary: In just two seconds of listening to that iconic opening song, our shoulders relax, our eyes light up and our hands intuitively get ready to make four chipper claps. 

    Friends is an unbeatable medley of silliness, camaraderie and the trials of a twenty-something's life. When the world is testing you, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Joey, Chandler and Phoebe are - as the title song quite-rightly put it - there for you. Every single one of the 236 episodes will make you laugh, no matter how many times you've watched them.

    Watch on Comedy Central or buy the complete box set, £50,

  • The Great British Bake Off

    It's like: drinking a cup of tea on a quiet patio in the sunshine

    Summary: "It makes me feel like everything is OK in the world," says ShortList designer Caroline Jones. Year after year, the GBBO judges, hosts and contestants brighten up our evenings with their loveable banter, ever-so-cheeky innuendos and mouth-watering bakes.

    Now that Sue, Mel and Merry Berry have opted out of following the show to Channel 4, it's time to invest in those past seasons, pronto. 

    Download from iTunes, Amazon or BBC Store

  • The Mindy Project

    It's like: hanging out with your closest best friend

    Summary: Hilarious, bright and witty - The Mindy Project is the equivalent of catching up with your nearest and dearest over the phone. Except each episode only lasts for 30 minutes, which is perfect for when you need a quick dose of down-time. Mindy Kaling plays a strong, smart and slightly insecure gynecologist. A wonderful woman to spend an evening with. 

    Watch on Hulu or buy individual season DVDs, £7,

  • Modern Family

    It's like: going home to your dysfunctional but loveable family

    Summary: If you're ever feeling homesick or in need of some consolation that your life isn't the only crazy one, Modern Family is an instant fix. The documentary-style creates a hilariously realistic portrayal of couples (both gay and straight) and children have an impressively sharp dialogue. It redefines the concept of One Big Happy Family in an honest and charming way. 

    Buy the seasons 1-7 box set, £37,

  • Once Upon a Time

    It's like: digging into a bowl of ice-cream covered in flake, smarties and hundreds and thousands. 

    Summary: Classic fairytales we've grown up reading are blended with new storylines (and a large dose of feminist badassery) to make this show irresistible light relief. "It's like Sunday afternoons binge-watching your favourite Disney films," says Emerald Street writer Kat Poole. 

    In a nutshell, it sees a young boy trying to reveal that his entire town is filled with fairytale creatures who have been cursed by his adopted mother, the Evil Witch from Snow White. It's the perfect way to feel like a care-free 10-year-old once again. 

    Watch on Netflix or buy a seasons 1-5 box set, £40,

  • Parks and Recreation

    It's like: wearing your favourite jumper   

    Summary: The concept might not sound riveting: follow an Indiana town's public officials as they pursue sundry projects to make their city a better place. But it is both hilarious and heartwarming as the team seek out ways to truly make a difference in life. 

    "Parks and Recreation is just so comfortable," says Siobhan Morrin, sub-editor at Newsweek. "Once you know the characters and their quirks - Lesley's (Amy Poehler) unrelentingly positivity, April's (Aubrey Plaza) attitude, Tom's (Aziz Ansari) crazy moneymaking schemes, Ron's (Nick Offerman) hatred of the government - I just settle in, wait for them to do their thing and let my brain relax." 

    Buy the complete series, £72,

  • Seinfeld

    It's like: venting about your day and feeling a huge sense of relief after it

    Summary: Devoted fans will tell you Seinfeld is a show about nothing, but there's an episode that relates to everything. In its nine-year run, the sitcom about New York stand-up Jerry Seinfeld and his friends covered just about every conceivable situation, relationship, and awkward occurrence you could encounter. The perfect formula for switching off and feeling better about yourself. 

    Buy the complete series box set, £40,

  • The Big Bang Theory

    It's like: meeting someone just as weird and wonderful as you

    Summary: Many of us will come home after a long day, flick through the channels and land on The Big Bang Theory on E4. It's the highest-rated sitcom since Friends signed off in 2004, its stars are currently the highest paid cast in American TV and it is just about to go into its 10th season. Even though it follows a group of exceptionally-smart scientists (and Penny who tolerates them), it is full of accessible humour (apparently there are 4.3 jokes per minute), Friends-style catchphrases such as Sheldon’s “Bazinga!” and feel-good friendships. 

    Watch on E4 or buy seasons 1-8, £35,

  • Downton Abbey

    It's like: getting lost in a Jane Austen novel

    Summary: Beautifully written characters, stunning costumes and a pacey script; Downton Abbey redefined the soap opera genre when it hit our screens in 2010 and became a welcoming antidote to the reality TV era. 

    Following the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants became our Sunday-evening escape. It was a generous dose of comfort and indulgence before the working week kicked off. We don't know how we're surviving without it. 

    Buy the complete set, £34,

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Sejal Kapadia Pocha covers stories about everything from women’s issues to cult foods. She describes herself as a balance between Hermione and Luna Lovegood.