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Loving yourself and just feeling good about your own body, personality, and aspirations in general are essential to your happiness. In fact, self-love should come before loving others, for if you are ready to appreciate who you are, it will definitely be easier to find people who deserve you and for you yourself to sincerely show affection and respect to your loved ones. The importance of self-care has become especially vital in the ongoing pandemic, with many people now being forced to stay home for an extensive period of time, as well as having to keep a physical distance – up to thousands of kilometers away – from their family and/or close friends. The loneliness that stems from a lack of daily interaction, of hours spent in introspection, and perhaps digging up old worries and/or facing new concerns surrounding the unprecedented pandemic situation can easily affect one’s mentality, with there seemingly being no easy way out of this stressful, anxiety-induced down spiral.The key to getting out of this mindset as well as becoming more optimistic about your present life when there’s seemingly no one else to help you? Self-care apps and/or games, many of them free-of-charge and with varying degrees of effectiveness, ready to be downloaded to your mobile phone from the app store. Self-love can be cultivated from anywhere, and your phone, the device that most people in this day and age always carry around wherever they go, is the easiest method for you to rediscover yourself, heal your mind, body, and soul from stress and worries, and, ultimately, develop a greater appreciation for your life and loved ones. Here are just some of the countless self-care apps available for free in Google Play Store, and which have gotten favorable ratings above a 4.0 out of 5.0 stars (as of 27th May, 2021) for their creativeness and overall effectiveness in helping you to love your life:

1. InnerHour Self-Care Therapy: Anxiety & Depression (4.7 stars)​

Feature(s):

  • Healthcare app with various self-help courses
  • Each course introduces one new activity per day
  • Has a “Relief Bot” called “Allie” that can help users navigate the app and/or connect with a therapist, and which can give further advice about users’ problems
  • Has additional resources in the form of self-help articles and short, inspirational tips
  • Premium version constructs a personalized plan for the user
  • Allows users to track their happiness level over 7 days
  • Users level up with “happiness points,” or “HPs” for short, that can be earned by tracking and adding more goals, having a goal streak, and/or finishing a program

Advantage(s):

  • Simple and clean design
  • Each course only introduces activities that are effective in dealing with its designated issue, for example, the activities under the “Foundation Course for Happiness” are selected because they are specifically meant to help users increase their happiness
  • Each course introduces different self-care and mindfulness activities in the form of written instructions or audio recordings, both of which users can repeat whenever they’d like to do a particular activity, or simply by showing them positive affirmations to build confidence and self-love
  • Users can choose whether to track their goals daily or to simply set a reminder for them to log in and carry out that day’s activity, in other words, the app does not bombard users with notifications
  • Cheap subscription fee to upgrade to premium version

Disadvantage(s):

  • Need to upgrade to premium and pay subscription fee to unlock content other than the chatbot, in-app resources, relaxation activities, and the six foundation courses
  • Users have to start the free 7-day trial or actually pay for the premium version to feel that the app is truly effective, for there is relatively much less content available in the free version compared to the premium

Conclusion:

As a self-care app, InnerHour does a good job of not putting too much pressure on users to follow specific, highly-organized routines; instead, it allows you to do just one new activity each day, and lets you piece together your own schedule from the various activities it has introduced so far. For those that feel having a tighter schedule full of healing activities and mindfulness practices will be more effective in improving your mental health, the app also allows users to send notifications and to track your selected goals daily. Moreover, the point and leveling up system may just be the motivation competitive or ambitious users need to finish your chosen courses, repeat the recommended activities, and, as a result, develop and maintain healthy habits that’ll steadily improve your lives as time goes on. On the other hand, there is no way for the app to check whether users are actually carrying out the recommended activities since you can just click “next” without playing that day’s video recording or writing down a serious response to the written instructions.It should also be noted that there are limited courses available with the normal version, and that to get the personalized plan which will be more effective in helping you change your mindset and settle your concerns, paying for a monthly or annual subscription is needed. Fortunately, the fee is quite affordable, especially when you consider the number of contents that will be made available once you start your subscription. I’ll definitely recommend upgrading to the premium version if you’re serious about implementing a healthier routine in the long run, and if you want to improve your mental health by yourself at home without necessarily setting up physical appointments with a therapist.

2. Adorable Home (4.4 stars)

Feature(s):

  • Simulation game with simple and cute visuals
  • allows players to choose an avatar and a partner from a selection of original characters
  • has a limited selection of mini-games
  • uses “love” as in-game currency
  • earn love by feeding cats, completing mini-games, and collecting from daily bonuses
  • spend love to buy more cats, cat food, food for your partner’s lunchbox as well as pieces of furniture to decorate your home
  • take special pictures by logging in at certain times to fill up “moments” gallery

Advantage(s):

  • Can be played offline
  • Casual game that incites you to play for half an hour each day at most
  • Though the mini-games may be frustrating at first, they actually don’t take much time to get used to
  • A wide collection of cute cats (the key to healing)
  • Relaxing background music as well as visuals
  • Casual gameplay with no concrete and possibly stressful objectives

Disadvantage(s):

  • There’s not much of a story
  • Limited things to do other than the three mini-games, collecting hearts, and spending the latter on cats, food, and furniture

Conclusion:

Casual games that you only need to play once in a while and for a short period each time are probably what’ll come to mind after hearing the phrase “healing games,” and Adorable Home delivers exactly that. With limited objectives and pleasing visuals, players are free to do whatever they want after opening the app, though a problem does lie in the fact that there are not many things to do in the first place. However, the simple gameplay may just be what players need to not get absorbed in long hours of completing quests and/or obsessing over when to log in next for that special timed mission, and to actually sit back and relax as they breeze through the calming activities the game has to offer.

3. Eyes : Nonogram (4.9 stars, Editors’ Choice)

Feature(s):

  • Logic puzzle game that utilizes the concept of a nonogram, which is a grid puzzle where players need to either color in or cross out boxes to reveal a hidden picture
  • Solve each puzzle to reveal a hidden picture
  • Solve all puzzles in each stage of the story mode to unlock the bigger story

Advantage(s):

  • Can be played offline
  • Allows players to focus on solving the puzzle, in other words, the game makes players more mindful of what they are doing at the moment
  • Beautiful, calming music allows players to relax and not get stressed out as they’re solving the puzzles
  • All difficulty levels are unlocked from the very beginning, and each level has a large number of puzzles, so you can take your time in getting used to the rules by starting with the puzzles from the easiest level, or jumping straight to the puzzles from the hardest level if you want more of a challenge
  • Though players are only allowed a limited number of mistakes, the fact that there is no time limit or clock ensures that they do not get stressed out as they are working on the puzzles
  • Gorgeous aesthetics that mixes soft, pastel colors with warm, darker tones to round off the calming atmosphere

Disadvantage(s):

  • Ads after players complete a puzzle; there are also ads at the bottom of the screen while players are solving the puzzle. Players need to pay for an ad-free version of the game to remove them
  • The fact that the game is centered around a logic puzzle that gives numerical hints may be less than ideal to players who don’t want to have to solve something to feel relaxed

Conclusion:

Nowadays, there are many nonogram and similar puzzle games in the app store, but Eyes particularly stand out due to its unique style and heartwarming aesthetics; the charm of this game surely lies in its visuals, which are so stunning that they can actually draw in players who aren’t fond of logic puzzles to try something new in order to release stress. The rules of the nonogram itself are simple enough, but the various difficulty levels are able to offer more of a challenge to those that are adept at solving the easier puzzles. There is no need for competitiveness and self-inflicted pressure because of this competitiveness when playing the game, for there are no time limits, no scoring system, and no rewards in the form of in-game currency or whatnot; the only thing players need to do is to collect the different pictures and unlock the story, both of which can be done at their own pace, and which allows them to practice mindfulness and, therefore, to release stress as they solve the type of puzzles that may seem too much like studying at first glance. The game makes players feel addicted, but not so obsessed that they’ll push away their responsibilities to finish it for, as it had just been mentioned, it is meant to be casual and to be completed whenever players need a little break from their daily lives. There aren’t any obvious flaws with Eyes, but there are many foreseeable benefits from playing it every once in a while.

4. Healing Tiles : Guitar, Piano, Calm, Offline Game (4.5 stars)

Feature(s):

  • Rhythm game with a selection of familiar classical songs as well as famous pop/rock songs, such as those from Queen, played on the guitar or piano,
  • level up by finishing available songs in normal mode,
  • has in-game currency of coins and jewels,
  • unlock more songs by leveling up or spending in-game currency,
  • simple and original GIF backgrounds as you’re playing through the songs.

Advantage(s):

  • Can be played offline
  • The songs, and therefore the speed at which the tiles fall, are quite slow, so it’s easy to complete them
  • Wide selection of familiar songs to choose from
  • Simple yet lovely background designs make it both visually relaxing and appealing
  • Home screen music as well as selection of playable songs are definitely relaxing

Disadvantage(s):

  • Ads often pop up and disrupt the relaxing atmosphere of the game
  • Hard mode speeds up the falling tiles, so that players may become competitive and focused on tapping the tiles instead of relaxing. This takes away from the healing purpose of the game

Conclusion:

If you’re a fan of rhythm games or the Piano Tiles series specifically, then this is the best healing app within the list for you to download since it offers the same gameplay as those games belonging to the said series, but with slower and calmer songs that’ll certainly ease you as you’re playing. If you think that the normal mode has just the right speed or perhaps that it is still a little too fast for your reflexes, then you don’t need to play through the hard mode; the same is true vice versa, if you’re more of a competitive player that likes to train your fingers by tapping endless tiles that speed up after each complete play-through, then the hard mode is a good way to keep things fresh and interesting. However, as mentioned above, playing in hard mode can make it less relaxing and more stressful unless you’re someone that feel at ease with fast-paced gameplay. In the latter case, then there are many other rhythm games with various difficulty levels that will better suit your needs than Healing Tiles.

5. #SelfCare (4.7 stars)

Feature(s):

  • Simulation game with several healing “mini-games” and activities
  • No concrete storyline, the app is based on the concept of “staying in bed all day"
  • Play mini-games to “raise your happiness,” which is represented by a rising sun icon at the top of the screen (the higher the sun rises and the brighter its color, the better a player’s in-game character’s mood will be – and, hopefully, your own mood in real life),
  • Mini-games can be played continuously, and players can exit them whenever they want.

Advantage(s):

  • Can be played offline
  • Has beautiful, chiming background music perfect for meditation and just relaxing in general
  • No ads, no notifications
  • Does not constantly remind or rush players into logging in everyday, you can just open the app anytime you want a little healing time for yourselves
  • No such thing as “completing” or “finishing” a mini-game, you can just relax and play mini-games as long as you want
  • Simple yet interesting collection of healing mini-games based on every day, real-life activities such as stroking a cat, picking up laundry, and growing a bedside plant by just by tapping or sliding your finger across the screen
  • The cute, colorful, and calming visuals are perfect for setting a relaxing mood
  • Gives some mindful advice for players to follow by tapping certain areas on the screen

Disadvantage(s):

  • Since the mini-games are quite simple, it can feel quite repetitive and boring after playing through them for a while
  • Players only need to play through a few levels of each mini-game to completely “raise your happiness,” but this may not translate to real-life (it’s harder to raise someone’s mood in reality, so players may not actually feel that their happiness is raising in sync with their in-game character’s despite that being the purpose of the app)

Conclusion:

The app definitely delivers its purpose of being a casual, self-care game when you consider the fact that players do not need to spend too much time playing through the mini-games to feel relaxed. The echoing music and cool, calming aesthetics work well alongside the simple controls to create an immersive atmosphere, so that players can feel as if they are just staying in bed all day like their in-game character despite probably having important tasks to do later on in real life. There’s nothing to disturb the relaxing gameplay, which is definitely a plus since the constant bombardment of ads and notifications can take away from the purpose of such apps. The lack of stimulating mini-games and absence of exciting objectives may make the app boring to some people, resulting in players no longer opening it even when they feel that they need a little self-healing; in this case, the no-notifications feature does not contribute in making sure players remember that they still have the app installed on their phone. This simplicity and lack of pressure on players to log in every single day, however, is surely the charm of the app, and therefore makes it an effective game to pull out whenever one’s feeling down, burdened, and/or at a loss of what to do.
An aspiring writer and a nerd in almost every sense of the word, with a deep interest in books, film, anime, manga, and games.
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