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Why We Should Treat Video Games As Self-Care

by Amanda Snead

Things are strange right now (to say the least) and self-care is more important than ever. Self-care has a different meaning for everyone. For some, it may mean taking a bath and doing a facemask, for others, it may mean meditating and setting aside some time to go without looking at a screen. But have you ever thought about adding video games to your self-care routine?

I’ve grown up playing video games and playing them has become a staple in my daily self-care. Video games allow you to take some time to escape to a virtual world where you aren’t refreshing your Twitter feed every five minutes to check up on the news. My recent go-to games are Animal Crossing New Horizons and Sims 4. I like these games because they are single player and therefore there isn’t any competition or stress. However, Animal Crossing does have an online aspect so you can hang out with your friends while practicing social distancing!

Animal Crossing New Horizons is available on the Nintendo Switch. If you’ve never played an Animal Crossing game before, here is a quick rundown. In this game, you move to a deserted island and it is your task to build it up by encouraging new people (well, anthropomorphic animals) to move there as well as opening shops, and decorating the island by adding outdoor furniture and planting trees and flowers. There is always something to do even when you start out living in a tent and can only access about a third of the island. There is also an online component that allows you and your friends to visit each other’s islands! It’s a great way to stay social with friends during quarantine! I’ve seen people posting screenshots of them going on dates at the museum with their S.O.s, fishing with friends and even a proposal!

My other go-to game is the Sims 4, which I play on my computer but it is available for the XBOX as well! I love this game because the possibilities are endless! You could create yourself, a celebrity, or just a random character and build anything from a suburban home to a mansion or anything else you can dream up. The game itself doesn’t necessarily have any goals—it’s up to the player to create them. Want to become a world-famous actor? Go for it! Want to master every skill? Amazing! Additionally, there are tons of challenges created by fellow Simmers that you can try, such as the 100 Baby Challenge or the Not So Berry Challenge. Bored with the options you have in-game? There are TONS of mods and custom content available for you to download on the Sims Resource, Tumblr and Patreon!

If you don’t have access to a Switch or computer or unsure if you want to spend the money? There are free mobile games for both Animal Crossing and the Sims! This will allow you to get a taste of the games without breaking the bank.

Video games are an essential part of self-care for me because the games that I play are not competitive and therefore allow me to destress and relax. Additionally, both the Sims and Animal Crossing have built entire communities of people who are connected by their love for the game. This has allowed me to connect with new people who share my interests and make new friends. These games don’t have any real rules or a set timeline to follow, which allows me to be creative and do what I want to do.

While it’s important to stay up to date on the latest news, it is also important that you take a break from it, particularly if it is causing any type of anxiety. In an article by Newsweek, Dr. Galanti stated "It's a great idea to stay away from the news or limit news consumption, so turning to a game like Animal Crossing can be a great way to reengage without escalating your own anxiety symptoms," she said. "It's completely healthy to try and escape right now."

Even just playing for a few minutes a day allows you to have a nice escape to create whatever your heart desires. It may be an unconventional form of self-care but it is something that I love and I think others will too! Happy gaming!

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