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  • emotional wellbeing

    Written by DiveThru Team

    Reviewed by Dr. Justin Puder B.A, M.A, Ph.D

    6 Relaxing Video Games That Calm Your Anxiety

    Published Jul 20th, 2022 & updated on Jul 20th, 2022

    Are you looking for some relaxing video games that won’t spike your anxiety?? We’ve got you covered!

    We understand that sometimes you want to play a nice, chill game without the pressure of a first person shooter (or kids online yelling about how bad you are… not speaking from personal experience or anything…). Gaming can be a great way to unwind and have fun, but some games might stress you out even further! A 2009 study found that playing casual video games — NOT violent and aggressive ones — can have a positive impact on stress levels. 

    So, what are some chill games for anxiety-filled and less-than-ideal days? Let’s dive thru gaming in this list!

    1. Stardew Valley

    There are soooo many great things to say about this game.

    You play a character that leaves their stressful, big city life to move to their grandfather’s old farm. Hallmark movie goals, honestly. How you play is up to you! There’s farming, ranching, mining, scavenging, and fishing, and basically any combination of those can allow you to progress in the game. Plus, there’s an online mode where you can play with a friend!

    One of the best parts of Stardew Valley is the characters. The village is full of interesting characters that you get to know a little better as you go along, and you really get invested in each of their stories. As far as relaxing games go, Stardew Valley is one of the best.

    Stardew Valley is available to play on all gaming platforms.

    2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

    Remember the year 2020? It truly feels like a lifetime ago, but that was when Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released. Our entire social media feed for a good month or so was everyone’s cute and colourful villages.

    Animal Crossing is a fantastic game for anxiety because the whole point is to just live. You make friends with other villagers, build your village as you see fit, plant flowers, style your villager, and mostly hang out in a cute, peaceful environment.

    There’s satisfying reward systems, but definitely no combat or zombies or anything to spike anxiety. It runs on the same 24 hour time system as real life and rewards players coming back each day, so it’s a great way to spend a couple hours to relax after you’ve done all your normal life stuff. 

    Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a Nintendo Switch exclusive.

    3. Minecraft

    You’d have to have been cryogenically frozen for the past ten years to have never heard of Minecraft. But, just in case you haven’t, or the name rings a bell but you don’t know what it is, we’ll explain it for you! 

    Minecraft is an exploration game where you mine and craft. Okay that miiight have been obvious from the title. But one of the best parts of the game is that, if you want, that’s all you need to do. There is a combat aspect that can honestly be stressful at times, but if you make sure your character sleeps at night and watch out when you’re underground, the rest of the experience is so soothing. And the music?? Add it to your wind-down routine, because it is tranquil AF.

    There is no right or wrong way to play Minecraft. If you want to build a cute house, farm some animals, and watch the sunset from your crafted home, that’s totally your choice! If you want to gear up and go spelunking for the more valuable materials, that’s all good, too. Minecraft is one of the top tier chill games because you can do whatever you want with it.

    Minecraft is available on all gaming platforms. 

    4. The Sims

    Have you ever wanted to take a break from your regular life to live someone else’s, but still do all the stuff you’d normally do in a day? The Sims has you covered!

    That’s mostly a joke, but also kinda true. The Sims is relaxing because there’s no real way to play it wrong. The game is a life simulator, meaning you make your character, build/buy their house, get them a job, make sure they’re fulfilled, and give them some sort of social life. From there, what you do is totally up to you. There are goals and objectives you can try to reach, but if your personal goal is to make the most aesthetically pleasing house possible, that’s totally an option. The Sims world is your oyster! 

    The Sims is available on all gaming platforms.

    5. Townscaper

    If you spent hours as a kid building stuff out of blocks, Townscaper will be a great stress relief game for you.

    This is another one of those games with no objective, but to take it further, this game has no plot or characters. The game is literally just building a town, and letting the game’s AI add cute little details into it. If you play your fave relaxing playlist in the background, then you’ve got a really calming experience.

    The game has zero barriers to entry. Even if you’ve never played a video game in your entire life, Townscaper is easy enough to pick up. You play at your own pace, build whatever town or city you want, and watch your creation grow. It’s pretty, customizable, and a great experience to help you chill.

    Townscaper is available on all gaming platforms.

    6. Journey

    There’s something really special about Journey.

    First of all, the aesthetics. This is such a gorgeous game. The vibrant colours, simple and unique art style, and varied landscapes really make the game gorgeous. But more important than the look of the game is the experience. 

    You play a character that isn’t named. The goal of the game is to follow the path to a beacon at the top of a mountain, finding glyphs to allow your character to fly higher and farther than they could before. The gameplay mechanics are super simple, and are honestly just a vessel for the emotional experience. 

    But the most beautiful part of Journey is when you find another player. Unlike other online games, there’s no voice chat, name labels, or online lobbies. You simply stumble upon another player in the world, and then continue together, or part ways. The strange thing is that even though you can’t verbally or textually communicate, players almost always stick together, and even wait for each other if the other player falls behind or needs help. 

    Journey brings players together in such a meaningful way that shows a deep and human understanding of connection, considering that it’s just a video game. There are no words needed to understand this adventure that you’re both on, and you will often stick with other people until the very end of the game, even when there’s no real necessity for it.

    We won’t spoil the end of the game. You need to play it. It’s definitely a stress-relieving game that leaves you feeling so moved and fulfilled by the short yet powerful experience.

    Journey is available on all gaming platforms.

    With this list in mind, grab your comfiest loungewear, get that lo-fi playlist going, and calm your anxiety with these fun and relaxing video games!

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