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Self-care ideas from video games

Pushing forward with the main quest and levelling up, while getting distracted by side-missions and conversations with non-player characters (NPCs) along the way. Am I talking about an RPG or real-life here? Things can get pretty hectic in both the digital and physical world, and sometimes it’s important to take time out for yourself.

Self-care is any activity done to take care of your mental, emotional and physical health. Many people confuse it with being โ€˜selfishโ€™ but itโ€™s far from it; looking after ourselves in all aspects of our lives means we have more energy and spirit to give to others. Itโ€™s about making purposeful efforts and doing so can cut back on stress and worry. Video games can be a great source of inspiration when it comes self-care activities, and here are six ideas Iโ€™ve picked up.

video game, The Elder Scrolls Online, Argonian, female, lizard, woman, book, reading, library

The Elder Scrolls Online: read a book

Reading isn’t only a good way to expand your horizons and increase your understanding, it’s also a relaxing activity that allows you to stop for a moment and take some time out for yourself. Even the most serious adventures realise how important it is to take a break from hard questing every once in a while to leaf through a few pages of an ancient tome. If you’re not a ‘book’ kind of person, why not try a visual novel instead? Grab your book or laptop, a warm drink, and curl up for an hour to get lost in a good story.

Eastshade, video game, countryside, mountains, hot-air balloon, easel, canvas, painting

Eastshade: be creative

Eastshade has to be the loveliest game I’ve experienced so far this year, perhaps ever. Playing it may be a form of self-care in itself but it also teaches players about the simple pleasure of making something. Be it cooking, sculpting, painting like the protagonist here or anything else creative, giving yourself such an outlet can provide the space needed to take a mental break as well as producing something that makes others think, feel or smile. My own creative channel is blogging and I’m thankful for the opportunities it has provided.

Proteus, video game, countryside, seaside, trees, sky, grass, water

Proteus: go for a walk

As my stepson told me recently after returning from a visit to the local woods with my parents: “Walking through the forest really de-stresses me.” You never know what wildlife you’re going to come across as you enter the trees, and you’re never sure which creatures you’re going to see in the procedurally-generated Proteus. Being outside in the fresh-air and surrounded by nature has a way of calming your mind; there’s something meditative about focusing on the rhythm of your footsteps and the birdsong around you.

Kind Words, video game, bedroom, letter, writing, desk, bed, window

Kind Words: write it down

When I have too much going on in my head and in beginning to feel overwhelmed, I pick up my diary and write everything down in a list. It feels as though I can breathe again afterwards and focus on what’s important. Other people keep journals, others write poems, others send letters. Although the basis of Kind Words is sending those letters on to a stranger and possibly receiving words of encouragement or advice in return, that’s not always the important aspect: sometimes just getting it out and on paper can be enough.

Night in the Woods, video game, Mae, cat, Bea, crocodile, Gregg, fox, Angus, bear, living room, sofa, hanging out

Night in the Woods: hang out with your friends

One of the things I liked most about Night in the Woods was its depiction of friendship. It’s not always smooth-sailing and there are bumps in the road with any relationship; but good friends will always be there for you. Sometimes forgetting about what’s happening and just being silly together for an hour or two – squirting people with water at the shopping mall, eating bad pizza at the local diner or hanging out at a mate’s house for example – can be the best medicine in the world. A close friend can help with the following activity too.

Mass Effect, video game, conversation, FemShep, woman, Commander Shepard, Garrus, alien

Mass Effect: talk about it

If there’s something on your mind – like a powerful mechanical race trying to take over the universe, for example – one of the best things you can do is head down into the cargo bay and share it with your crew. They’ll be a source of valuable support and advice, and show that you don’t have to go through anything alone. Talking isn’t only a great self-care activity in times of trouble. It can also help you develop your character, as well as find out more about the thoughts and feelings of those individuals who have your back.

And that list brings us to our final self-care activity suggestion: play video games. Certain titles have been developed to help players manage stress and anxiety, but even playing other games can have beneficial effects. As Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate wrote: โ€œ[Playing a game] allows me to be in control of my entire situation. If I want to explore in that direction, I can. I get to control where I go, when I accomplish tasks, how long itโ€™ll take, and how to approach an enemy. This, for someone who feels like their life is spiralling, is a positive experience and helps me feel a little more inner peace and calm.โ€

What self-care lessons have you picked up from video games, and which titles do you turn to when you need some time out?

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

10 thoughts on “Self-care ideas from video games Leave a comment

  1. This is an excellent post!!! A title I love to relax with it Minecraft. Creating a home deep within the earth or even high into the sky is quite satisfying and also soothing for me. Especially if Iโ€™m not playing with Monsters being active.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words! I don’t play Minecraft myself but I can totally understand how creating something is like a meditative experience. That’s kind of how I feel when playing Coloring Pixels – I zone out for a couple of hours and love seeing the end result of my work.

      Like

  2. Call of Duty: Shoot some terrorists

    Wait, no! Don’t do that!

    Seriously, though, I’d like to add something to “Talk about” because I think this is the most important one. Humans are extremely social animals, and loneliness has a very strong (negative) impact on us. Also, it is important to have an actual conversation with someone, not *just* talk. Talking to someone about your problems can be a great way to vent, but the important part is the connection that forms between people. For me personally, one of the greatest things to do is to form such a connection from scratch.

    I realise that for a lot of people that actively seek out help with self care and related topics, striking up a conversation with a stranger is not really the easiest or most comfortable thing. Luckily, conversations are a lernable skill, not a god-given personality trait, and there are even a few “basic templates” for it. Of course, friends and family are great to fill that need for socialising, too. Just be sure not to solely focus on the talking, but the human connection.

    Not that you said anything different in the post, but I wanted to point it out, nonetheless.

    Like

    • Any comment that highlights the importance of talking is more than welcome! ๐Ÿ˜€

      I went on a course earlier this year to become a mental health first-aider, and one of the most valuable lessons we were taught was how important it is to talk. And not just to talk – but to actively listen to what someone is saying, and to ask questions to give them the opportunity to explain how they’re feeling. It was definitely one of the most worthwhile experiences I’ve had this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sims: Live your best life

    The Sims allows me to escape my actual life for a few moment and live it through the families and people that I create. Like them, it would be nice to not have a care in the world, never have to worry about finances (I like to use the money cheat, lol don’t judge me!) and have the life that I want with nothing getting in the way!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Video games like The Sims are a great way of taking a mental holiday! It’s not a case of hiding from real life; it’s a way of taking a short break from it so you can regather your strength, and be all the more prepared to deal with whatever life throws at you when you return to it.

      I’m not saying anything about the money cheat… I may have used it myself the last time I played… ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Like

  4. What an amazing post Kim! I hope lots of people read this, this can be a difficult time of year for many, and we all have points in our lives where we feel like we need all the help we can get!
    Thank you so much for your thoughts on this subject!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the lovely words! ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s important to take some time out for yourself every once in a while, especially at this time of year. Christmas can be stressful: the build-up to it is so long and we put ourselves under an immense amount of pressure to make it perfect, then we spend the whole day feeling guilty that it’s not and don’t enjoy ourselves. Taking a break – whether it’s playing a video game or doing something else – can be just what you need.

      Liked by 1 person

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