In the last year and a half, a lot of people have devoted more focus than ever before to relaxation and stress relief. The coronavirus pandemic and the countless consequences stemming from it have forced us to confront not just our physical health, but also our mental wellness.
For many, this has meant finding little ways to ease stress in the midst of everyday life. Indeed, our own piece on coping with mental health challenges during the pandemic provided a few ideas with regard to stress relief — such as practicing yoga, listening to music, or doing critical thinking exercises. These remain useful suggestions. For a lot of people though, mobile gaming has emerged as another relaxing outlet. It is simple and accessible and involves such a massive array of games that there’s something for just about everybody that can have a soothing effect in one way or another.
We want to be clear here that mobile games do not directly address mental health. Those worried about mental health are advised to seek professional medical advice and assistance. If you’re merely looking for one more go-to way to calm your mind during stressful times, however, there are a few games, in particular, you may want to try out.
You may have noticed in recent years that succulents have become extremely trendy. This is partly because they’re easy to care for, and partly due to the snowballing nature of any trend. But it also has something to do with the simple fact that indoor house plants are good for you. Having succulents around is soothing in multiple ways, and while no mobile app can populate your home with plants, this game seeks to replicate some of that soothing quality. Furthermore, it succeeds!
Viridi is basically a game that invites you to grow your own succulent garden, any way you wish. You can name your plants, tend to them in an incredibly “zen’ environment, and even return to them after a break to see that they’ve grown. You do have to keep them alive, but this is relatively easy, and it’s a lovely process.
In a sense, the Prune mobile game is similar to Viridi. It presents you with a supremely relaxing environment and asks only that you shape and “prune” growing trees any way you like. Now, there is a bit more of a “game” to it, in that you have to keep your tree in the sunlight and avoid certain hazards with its growth. But this is almost as much of an artistic experience as a game. You are creating an artificial nature as much as fulfilling any challenge, and the effort can certainly help you to ease away some stress.
The game of poker can offer an interesting mix between stress and relaxation. On the stressful side of things, it’s a fairly competitive game. If you’re really trying to win, you’re attempting to read your opponents, leverage your bets (whether with real or fake money), and calculate the odds of any given hand or bet working in your favor. There’s a lot going on in the average poker game! On the other hand, the game also has relaxing qualities: It leads you to put most everything else out of your mind, and focus only on the exchange of cards and chips (which can in and of itself be oddly relaxing).
The beauty of the Politaire mobile game is that it essentially does away with the stressful elements. This is a poker game in which competition, player psychology, and calculating odds don’t matter. Instead, it’s presented as a version of solitaire, wherein you select cards that will form poker hands, which then count toward your sore. You play only against yourself, the app is designed in a thoroughly pleasing manner, and it’s ultimately another very relaxing experience.
Reigns is another mobile card game of sorts, though one that has nothing to do with traditional games like poker or solitaire. Actually, this one unfolds a little bit more like a playable narrative experience. In Reigns, you are established as the ruler of a kingdom, and you are presented with decisions in the form of cards. How you act on these decisions (by swiping the card to the right or left) affects the prosperity of your kingdom and the status of your rule.
Some aspects of this game may not seem particularly relaxing. For instance, at some point, it’s likely to tell you that your citizens have overthrown you in one way or another. Bit it’s all designed to be slightly amusing, and it’s oddly relaxing to simply lose yourself in this artificial state of rule and focus on decisions that have no bearing on the real world. Plus, the gameplay is wonderfully simple.
5. Grand Mountain Adventure
This is a simple one to explain: It’s an open-world skiing and snowboarding game you can play on your phone or tablet. Grand Mountain Adventure boasts extensive gameplay consisting of eight mountains and 100-plus challenges to explore. But at its core, it’s near-meditative skiing and snowboarding simulation. It invites you to simply slide your way through beautiful scenes with pleasing music and audio effects playing all the while. The game can get challenging at times, but it certainly helps you to detach from the world and reset your mind a little bit.
We hope these games will make you relax when you need to!
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