If you haven’t already guessed from reading some of my previous blog posts, I love video games and always have. However, my love for video games is pretty …specific. (For example, I can’t play any first-person shooters because they make me nauseous!) Anyway, I’ve noticed that in times of stress, I often come back to video games as a great distraction. Now, I’m not recommending you develop a video game addiction (which is a real thing, by the way) but coping strategies are fine. And video games have become a pretty big coping strategy for my anxiety and depression.
My Top 5 Recommended Games For Anxiety and Depression
I thought I would make a list (because who doesn’t love lists?!) of my top 5 games that help me distract me when my anxiety and/or depression is particularly bad. So, if you also enjoy a good game every now and then or are completely new to the video game world and want to find some great, super distracting games, here are some I highly recommend.
#5 – The Sims™ (any version will do!)
Image Source: The Sims™ 4 – ea.com
Cost: $ – $$$$ (depending on version & amount of expansions)
Distraction Rating: ★★★★
Systems Available On: PC (and some other systems, but PC is way better!)
Ah, The Sims. One of the first video games I begged and begged my parents for, who eventually caved even though it had a “teen” rating. I mostly just use The Sims now as a construction simulator – I love spending hours and hours building and furnishing homes, creating the perfect family to live in it, and then quitting the game.
The biggest problem I find with The Sims is the fact that my computer feels like it’s going to explode every time I run it, and the fact that I usually BINGE for a few months and then get bored and won’t play again for a year or two.
#4 – Pokémon (any version will do!)
Image Source: Pokemon Sun & Moon – gameranx.com
Cost: $ – $$ (depending on version)
Distraction Rating: ★★★★★
Systems Available On: Most Nintendo handheld systems
Don’t judge me! This is another classic game that really doesn’t matter which version you play. Although, if you care about graphics, of course, the newer games are best. I have played every single Pokémon game (…yes, even the most recent ones…) and I will most likely continue to buy them. Forever.
For me and many others, there is a huge amount of nostalgia associated with the game, which makes it an even more comforting experience. Plus, I can replay old games (…Crystal…) dozens of times and the experience is just as exciting as the first time.
I know some people can get tons of hours out of their game (my brother logged over 200 hours on Pokémon Diamond), but I usually only get about 20-40 hours of gameplay in and then get bored. I’m not really a completionist, so filling out the Pokédex or leveling up all my Pokémon to level 100 was never really appealing to me.
#3 – Hearthstone
Image Source: Hearthstone screenshot taken by me, Hearthstone game by Blizzard
Cost: Free – $$$$$ (i.e. “free to play, pay to win”)
Distraction Rating: ★★★
Systems Available On: PC and your phone
I discovered Hearthstone in the summer of 2014, not too long after it was released. Since then, there have been A LOT of expansions. I will say this right away – it’s not the easiest game for new players to join. However, it is definitely possible (especially if you are willing to spend some $$$) and is a great distraction because you can play it on your computer or download the app and play it wherever you have an internet connection. Plus, it is technically free so if you have willpower you could get the game and never spend a single dollar.
I have been playing Hearthstone consistently now for almost three and a half years and although I vowed to quit multiple times, I am still a pretty big fan. However, I gave it a lower distraction rating because sometimes it is just SO frustrating I have to quit and take a breather (which isn’t great when you’re actively trying to chill out).
#2 – Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
Image Source: zeldadungeon.net
Distraction Rating: ★★★★★
Systems Available On: Nintendo Wii U / Nintendo Switch
This is considered by many the best game of the year/one of the best games of all time and I can tell you, I wholeheartedly agree. I own a few other Zelda games: Minish Cap, Majora’s Mask, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess (which is my second favourite, by the way). This is the first Legend of Zelda game I actually BEAT though! It is just SO good, and just hard enough to keep you on your toes but not too hard that you want to throw your controller at a wall and cry.
There is honestly nothing bad I can say about the game except maybe the price – I don’t own a Wii U, so in order to play, my husband and I needed to get a Switch and of course the game (which cost almost $80 used). But it’s definitely worth it. I think I have put more time into this game than ANY other game, and on top of that, the DLC is great too and adds many more hours of fun.
#1 – Stardew Valley
Image Source: Stardew Valley from store.steampowered.com
Distraction Rating: ★★★★★
Systems Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, and a bunch of other systems
I purchased Stardew Valley knowing nothing about the game aside from the fact that people online said it was “kind of like Harvest Moon” and I was really craving a game like Harvest Moon. Stardew Valley is amazing. I have currently played for just over 40 hours in total (…yeah…) and I still feel like there is SO MUCH LEFT TO DO!
You have so much control in the game, from who you marry (or don’t), to what your farm looks like, to how you spend your day. It is not stressful at all. There’s no competition, there’s no bad guys (unless you venture into the mines) and I was able to buy it for about 20 bucks. I had to get used to the graphics at first, and the game can be a bit glitchy, especially when I dock my switch. Still, I mostly play it handheld and it’s the only game that has even successfully brought me OUT of a panic attack, so there’s that.
So, there you have it! Obviously, everyone has different taste when it comes to video games, but if you’re ever in the mood to try out a new game to help with your anxiety, maybe try one of these out – and let me know how it goes!