Editorials

5 Games To De-stress You and Promote Better Mental Health This Christmas

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December 10, 2021

Kick your Christmas festivities off to a good start with these relaxing and mindful games that could help your overall well-being.

The evenings are darker and the rain just never seems to stop. Couple that in with the stress of gift buying before the Christmas rush sets and completing all of your work duties before the holidays start would leave anyone feeling overwhelmed and worn out

It’s never been more important than now to take care of your mental health especially so with how unpredictable life is and has been over the past two years throughout the pandemic. Finding the time to live in the present and to be mindful seems like an unachievable challenge but there are ways to make it fun even without realising it.

To help make this Christmas time a period that allows you to quiet the mind and in turn promote better mental health, here are five games to curl up with during your downtime.

Halo Infinite | Campaign Launch Trailer

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Halo Infinite | Campaign Launch Trailer
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Spiritfarer

Although the undertone of this title by ThunderLotus is about death, Spiritfarer is a beautifully designed and cosy management game where players build a boat to explore the world, then befriend and care for spirits before finally releasing them into the afterlife.

Not only is it thought-provoking with an array of unique characters, but you also get to fish which allows your mind to drift as you sail the seas. One of the most important aspects is that Spiritfarer gives the player the tools on how to let go whilst also creating unforgettable memories with those they help guide to the other side.

Life is Strange: True Colours

Sometimes, all you might need is to get away from it all for a while and Deck Nine’s latest title, Life is Strange: True Colors, does that in abundance. Set within the stunning frosted mountains of Colorado lies Haven Springs, a breathtaking town scattered with blooming flowers and soft flowing streams – the perfect place to escape to.

Players can even take some time out by sitting on the pier, quietly taking in the sounds of the birds, the lapping of the water and spend a few minutes to really be present in that moment. Not only that but you might even find yourself identifying with Alex, the main character, as she navigates her struggles with the world around her.

Psychonauts 2

It can be really difficult to find games to play that deal with mental health in a mature and real-life manner. Many titles tend to knock down mental health issues by making a mockery or making the said character into something to be feared in outdated tropes but Double Fine’s work with Take This, a non-profit advocating for better mental health representation in games, proved that their due diligence paid off.

Tackling serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression, Psychonauts 2 offers the player a safe space in which they feel seen in what they are going through and not alone, while even throwing in some well-balanced humour.

The Sims: Cottage Living

The Sims has always played a huge part within the hearts of gamers everywhere since 2000 and 21 years later, it’s as strong as ever. One of the biggest draws to the game is that you can be whoever you want to be and that ultimate escapism can be essential to those who are struggling.

In our real lives, trying to maintain any aspect of control or achievement can be an uphill war but in The Sims, if you fancy being a vampire, witch or an astronaut, it’s as easy as choosing it for your character giving you a huge sense of accomplishment and goals that feel out of reach in the real world.

Unpacking

The idea of going through a pile of boxes and placing all of its items in your home may feel like a daunting experience, as I initially thought, but this brilliant little indie game by Witch Beam is the most amazing zen experience I have had in a long time.

I think what makes it so especially worthwhile for those who might be struggling is that it forces the player into a mindful state without even realising it. The process of finding the correct place for your books, yoga mat or teddy bears is extremely fulfilling that throughout the gameplay, your mind has been so fixated on what you’re doing that you haven’t spent any time ruminating over those crippling bad thoughts.

You also get a lovely big shiny gold star for work well done, just like back in school which gives you an instant dopamine shot.

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Rachael Fiddis
@Irish_Soulful

Rachael (She/Her), who is Deputy Editor & Head of Stakeholder Relations, has been gaming for many years. Some of her favourite video games include The Witcher 3 and The Last of Us but also loves a good indie title. Gaming Culture is where her heart lies and spends many hours sieving through gaming fan art and cosplay displays. Other than gaming, Rachael is a book nerd and music lover.

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