Phones are often criticized for having negative effects on mental health. Notifications flood our home screens with photos shared in our social circles, the carefully curated posts of influencers who we admire and, of course, the endless automatically-generated messages/reminders we receive from the apps themselves. Even with silent mode on, the temptation to check for new notifications is hard to resist. The instant gratification that we have become conditioned to crave actually alters the way our brains function. Toxic habits surrounding technology use can shorten our attention spans, as well as worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression.
More apps are becoming available to help counteract these effects, by reducing stress and providing tools to improve users’ mental health. These include online therapy, meditation guides, mood trackers, and even ambient music. Now, even games are being designed and marketed with descriptors like “calming” and “satisfying.” Read below for a list of the most soothing game experiences available for free on the app store.
- I Love Hue
Rearrange solid color panels to create a seamless gradient. This may sound easy, but your visual skills will definitely be put to the test!
- Poly Island
Piece together triangular shapes to fill in images of flowers, animals, fruit, and more. Each completed puzzle will earn you gems to buy more intricate art expansion packs.
- Zen Koi
Swim your Koi around to collect the items needed to expand your pond. Breed and hatch new eggs to raise Koi with rare color combinations.
Plant, water, and grow sprouting succulents to fill your pot with fully grown spikey boys.
- My Oasis
Upgrade your zen garden with this app that lets you shape an entire island. Play musical chords to alter the weather conditions and interact with the plants and animals in your own personal oasis.
Even though we associate excessive screen time with distractibility and procrastination, these apps actually encourage mindfulness. Instead of opening a social media app, try killing those few minutes before class starts by playing one of these games at your own pace. You may find that these low-stress games help to quiet racing thoughts and give you a few minutes of peace.