All of the Video Games You Should Be De-Stressing With

Picture this: you’ve had an unnecessarily long day of classes, the biting winter wind has frozen you to your core, and a thin layer of sleety sludge has covered your boots after cars zoomed through puddles while passing you by on the street. Naturally, all you want to do is curl up in bed, put on some Netflix, and doze off to sleep. 



While naps are often one of the most useful tools for a boost of brain energy, they don’t work for everyone. For me, a nap can completely throw off my schedule. I wake up groggy, and my brain refuses to turn back on in time for me to be productive. That’s why I like to play video games! They’re the ultimate way to de-stress without losing peak creative and intellectual function — instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and watching yet another episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I can keep my mind active by solving puzzles and organizing items. Read on for a list of my favorite games and the ways they help me de-stress (without falling into a funk…) 

  1. 1. Stardew Valley

    If you’re all about organizational skills, cute characters, and small-town antics, Stardew Valley is the game for you! The story of this game centers around YOU, a soon-to-be farmer that has just inherited her grandfather’s farm. I fell in love with this game this summer because it allowed me to practice organizing things while also keeping my brain busy with tasks as simple as catching a fish and as crazy as fetching items for a wizard. This game is fantastic because the days go by quickly — you can play for an hour and still feel like you got something accomplished! Plus, there are certain challenges and opportunities (like gift-giving and marriage) that require some active thinking to keep your brain awake. 

  2. 2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

    A classic favorite of all gamers, Smash is the perfect game to absorb all of your school day frustrations. After all, what’s better for extinguishing your anger about a bad grade than brutally crushing a Level 9 CPU in a battle? I love Smash because it’s quick and challenging — if you don’t want to get caught up in four hours of play, you can simply spend 10 minutes on a couple of rounds and feel satisfied. A challenge is always a perk, and you can choose your own in this game. One of my favorite ways to distract myself from my worries is to battle two Level 8 CPUs at once (I’m still not ready for two Level 9s) — I have to focus if I want to win, and it pushes me to do better. If you’re a naturally competitive person, this is the game for you.

  3. 3. Minecraft

    I’m not going to lie, I was pretty into Minecraft in middle school and then quickly dropped it as a pastime when I became “too cool” for it in high school. That being said, I loved the creative mode and didn’t get into the actual gameplay until recent years. There’s a reason that Minecraft is so popular, and if I’m being honest, I don’t really know what it is. BUT, the concept is simple, and the game focuses solely on the aspect of fun — both of which are reasons I love it. All I can say is that the game is way more complex than I ever could have guessed (and, in some ways, just as simple as it appears.) Either way, it’s a great amount of fun! If you want a game that requires pretty low effort, but still has enough pizazz to keep your brain working, play it!

  4. 4. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019)

    This game is, without a doubt, the cutest game I have ever played. While I love The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for its relaxing horse riding and the stunning scenery, I think Link’s Awakening is better for a de-stress session because the monsters aren’t as difficult to defeat. The graphics are just adorable — every character looks like an animated toy, and the plot is both mystifying and fun to uncover. While the puzzles in this game can be quite frustrating, they certainly keep the mind active and awake, which makes this the perfect game for a mid-afternoon play. 

  5. 5. Sims

    If I could choose only one game to play for the rest of my life, Sims might just be it. I’ve been playing this series ever since middle school, and it’s been a saving grace on many a stressful day. From designing your dream family to detailing the fabric on each bed in your house, Sims is the perfect escape from your worries and fears. Players beware: this game is extremely easy to get caught up in. I can’t count the number of times I’ve accidentally played a whole afternoon away, which is why I reserve it for a weekend treat now that I’m in college. Some would argue that Sims doesn’t exactly turn the factory of the mind’s gears, but I beg to differ. If you think of plots and a story, you can harness all of your creativity and let it loose!

I know that most of the above games are only available on Nintendo consoles, and I want to make it clear that I love games from all platforms! Some of my other all-time favorites include: Red Dead RedemptionFar Cry 5Outlast, and Animal Crossing (yes, that’s Nintendo too…) While video games may not be the most obvious form of productivity in the face of stress, I promise they’ll be more rewarding than you think. Now grab a controller and gain some control of your life!

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