Stress and anxiety suck, big time, and they always seem to strike hardest when you need to be at your best. While it’s usually smart to address the issues at the root of your stress/anxiety, sometimes we all just need a quick way to relax and calm down. These are all free game apps that I find helpful when in a pinch. My research comes from personal experience and sites like Gizmodo and Mic.
OK, so Calm is not really a game—it’s a meditation app. The premium content comes at a cost, but there are lots of shorter meditation practices (10 minutes) that are free. The app will walk you through meditation specifically for stress, and there’s no experience required. I love this app more than others like Headspace because I swear it can read my mind. Every time I catch myself thinking “jeeze, I’m SO awful at meditating,” the app will reply “and if you think you’re bad at meditating, there’s no such thing.” How’s THAT for an awesome way to combat stress AND self-criticism?
This game is absolutely wonderful because it involves CATS! Everyone starts out with a yard that you can then fill with toys and treats. Cats will wander in and out of the yard as they please (because cats). You can read up on each cat and take pictures of them being pixelatedly adorable. Up your game by “purchasing” the coolest gadgets and highest-quality chow!
Keep a balloon from running into obstacles as it makes its way toward what I can only assume is space. This game is challenging, but in a way that you really don’t care if you win or lose so there’s no pressure. Instead, it’s just mind-numbingly calming.
Click the link below to read more
Cut the Rope
Candy tied to ropes
Cut the ropes and use balloons
Feed the blob candy
Haiku FTW! Now go out and get that li’l blob some noms!
This spin-off of Candy Crush is WAY better than the original. First off, there are no sparkling colors and flashing lights that feels, to me, seizure-inducing. Secondly, Homescapes is fun because it has a storyline. Help Austin the butler fix up his parents’ mansion and (potentially) get a date (I don’t know, I’m only on level 400, but I’m REALLY hoping he gets the girl!). NOTE: I will warn that this game can be sexist. The mother spends a good amount of time lamenting her inability to bake a pie without burning it and “woe-is-me I’m a terrible housewife yada yada.” BUT, if you can ignore those blips of yes-a-white-dude-probably-invented-this-game, then it’s a LOT of fun.
Jurassic Park Builder
DINOSAURS! Need I say more? Create your own park, invent new dinosaurs, complete tasks and battle your beasts to make more money. This game is pretty slow. Turns out, it takes a long time for dinosaurs to hatch—even in the game world. BUT, if you’re looking for something to relax your brain, there’s nothing like feeding a dinosaur and watching it evolve.
Boggle and/or Ruzzle
Find as many words as you can in the shortest amount of time. This game can be a *little intense because of the timed aspect, but it really does a great job of taking your mind off of whatever’s stressing you out.
Words with Friends
My Algebra II teacher must’ve been crazy stressed because she spent most of the class hunkered down at her computer, playing this game. And though I sometimes get flashbacks from high school, that doesn’t mean this game can’t be super calming. Play Scrabble with people from around the world. Don’t have the attention span for a full game? No problem! You can sign up for lightning rounds that last about two minutes. AND, if you play against the app, you can access the game offline. WIN!
In this game, you play a dude who jumps and ducks his way through obstacle courses that resemble pool halls, football fields and outdoor trails. Drones, flying pies and low tree branches all have it out for you. The farther you get, the faster you run and the more you have to rely on your reflexes. It’s simple, engaging and totally stress-reducing.
We all know about Angry Birds. There’s even a movie. After years of avoiding the inevitable, I finally broke down and got the game. I’ve been missing out! For some reason, chucking birds at pigs is incredibly satisfying. Give it a go yourself!
Unfold shapes to get from one point to another. This is like geometry on steroids! And, if you’re stuck, the app lets you ask for hints. =) I love the game’s design and feel—just looking at the landscape is already pretty calming.
Break down the Tetris wall
Let yourself relax
Don’t let the hexagon fall
Keep depleting those stacks
Your fingers must be steady
To clean up the mess
When the download is ready
Your mind will destress
P.S. This game is my fav so far!
Tetris and/or Pong and/or Snake
All the “old” games are available for the iPhone and kick-butt when it comes to busting stress. Download a few and take a ride down memory lane!
UPDATE April 2020
Also check out I Love Hue, Alphabear 2 and Happy Glass.