Games make for a great stress reliever for many reasons.
Since we spend so much time in our own heads, it can be beneficial to take a break from all of that and immerse yourself in the virtual world for a while.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (2015), American adults report spending an average of more than six hours per day in front of a screen, with over a third of that time devoted to gaming.
If you are struggling with anxiety, stress, or any other negative mental health state, an offline escape may be exactly what you need to alleviate your symptoms.
Many types of games provide this benefit and there are dozens of available free and paid titles for just about every kind of gamer.
Games like tic-tac-toe, Solitaire, and even video games have long been associated with lowering levels of stress, since certain mental states are only possible when thinking is freed from worry.
Not all games are therapeutic, though, and it's important to know what they will and won't do for you.
Below, we discuss five of the most commonly played kinds of games on the mobile and tablet platforms. Whether you need a short and mild pick-me-up or something a little more substantial, you will find something suitable below.
These games are perfect for anyone looking to de-stress on a short, rainy day or perhaps help you to get over a bad breakup.
One of the oldest and most popular types of single player games is the board game, and there are several on the market that will provide you with hours of entertainment for only a few bucks.
Other popular games of this kind include Tetris, Snake, Bejeweled, Ticket To Ride, Scrabble, and Word Spade.
While these games may not be ideal for the intense mental focus needed for managing anxiety, they're great alternatives to watching Netflix.
Gone are the days of the rousing clap-along-with-Bob-Simpson good old-fashioned game show.
We live in an era of multi-player gaming, where gamers can entertain themselves with a bunch of their friends doing battle across the virtual landscapes of Call Of Duty or Overwatch.
Some games specifically cater to the competitive nature of our species, like Blizzard's Overwatch, where every match you play involves a group of five- or eight-player teams duking it out.
These games will provide you with short bursts of intense stress relief, though you will probably need to concentrate for long periods of time to gain any kind of benefit from them.
If you're looking for a more intensive experience, you'll want to try out an online multiplayer game. Unfortunately, you will need a strong internet connection in order to play these.
There are many online multiplayer games, though many of them are well outside the realm of "fun."
Some of the best examples of these include World Of Warcraft, League Of Legends, Starcraft 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Halo 5: Guardians.
A hardcore approach to these games will mean that you need a lot of mental endurance and you'll need to commit to playing every match of every game for hours at a time.
Games like this might work for some people, but others will find them to be a lot to take on in the long run.
"Turn-based" games like chess and chess-like games are a bit too slow for some gamers. If you prefer playing to "mindlessly clicking," then role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons or World Of Warcraft might be more your speed.
These games involve a lot of detail and time management, as you need to roll dice and be careful not to run out of mana points, because you will need to continue using them after a fight.
You can take these games online, too, and the turn-based nature makes it easy to pause and take a moment to consult with friends and teammates in a scenario where you have a choice to make.
Some people prefer playing games that they themselves have made. The last time I checked, this was the most popular kind of indie game on iOS devices: SuperSelfDev.
This game uses augmented reality and a timer to help you to work through exercises and tasks designed to help you better manage your mental health.
It will help you with things like meditation, gratitude, body acceptance, and assertiveness training, all of which can be beneficial to you at any time of day, even when you're at work.
Double XP weekends are rare and significant events in the video game world. Usually, this kind of event occurs on occasion as a reward for players who have logged many hours, or just for special holidays or commemorations.
In Overwatch, however, this is an every-weekend-period, which means that you have an opportunity to spend the entire weekend actually playing the game, instead of sitting on your couch watching Netflix or cooking food.
Going into a long week on Friday, one of the most popular things people do is sleep in.
It might seem simple, but for most of us, we find it difficult to keep up with work and social obligations when our brain is trying to escape.
If this sounds like you, you can catch up on your sleep by starting a new weekend tradition. Your new weekend habit could include watching a movie with friends or reading a book.
The one-time cost for this is low, but it can provide lasting benefits for your physical and mental health, as well as your social life.