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Five games to help you relax

By Harry Mitchell // BBC The Social contributor

I am sure many of you will have off days. Days when you feel constantly worried and overthink every...little...thing.

While movies and music help me a lot on days like that, there's simply nothing like an immersive video game to make me forget my problems and relax.

So here are five games - in no particular order, by the way - to help you unwind…

A recent survey by YoungMinds has shown that the coronavirus pandemic is having a profound effect on young people with existing mental health conditions. Interestingly, of the 2,111 UK-based young people surveyed nearly half said that gaming helped them with their mental health.

Five Games To Help You Relax

There's nothing like an immersive game to help you unwind, here's Harry with five faves.

Number one: Minecraft. World-famous and ultra-successful!

It's a super accessible game and it doesn't bind you to any goals or expectations. There are some stressful parts in the game but you can always switch to 'peaceful mode’.

Whether I am just building a house, exploring a cave or desperately trying to tame a cat - this game has always been a reliable choice for me. Minecraft is one of the best-selling games of all time and with its comforting, blocky gameplay it’s clear why.

Number two: Neko Atsume. If you love cats then look no further.

Neko Atsume is a Japanese mobile game where you can collect cute cats...YES, cute a virtual back garden. The kittens pretty much come and go as they please while you upgrade your yard, give out food, take photos, and perfect your cat den.

Mobile games like this are always a good idea for calming you down when things get too much. During a heated moment you can just take out your phone, bury yourself in this game and unwind. Giving cats some nibbles is much better than scrolling Twitter. Trust me!

Number three: Proteus. It’s a video game you may not have heard of but it is my go-to when I'm feeling angry, upset, overwhelmed or even unwell.

While exploring a beautifully psychedelic island, you discover various secrets and environmental changes as you work your way through the levels. The atmosphere transforms around you as the seasons change and everything just has this mysterious feeling.

It’s a pretty classic walking simulator, but it's a visual experience you can delve into whenever you feel down. It's free-to-play and you'll find me engrossed in it no matter how I am feeling.

Number four: Animal Crossing. Anyone who's seen me on BBC The Social knows I was always going to mention it.

Animal Crossing is the perfect relaxation game. Infinitely playable and ultra-chill, this game gives you a village full of animals that you can chat to. You can fish, you can upgrade characters, you can collect items, you can... I don't know...vibe?

It has clear and achievable goals that you can work on when your own life's goals can seem a little bit too much. It has a constant real-time world that you can enter into at any point. And while everyone's talking about New Horizons - the latest game in the Animal Crossing series for the Switch - you can always pick up Wild World for the DS, New Leaf for the 3DS or Into The City for the Wii.

No matter how old, they all soothe in the exact same way.

Number five: A Short Hike. I only played this a couple of weeks ago and it's straight into the top 5 list.

This game has the player roaming the wilderness on holiday while talking to animals on the way. You’re probably noticing a theme with my preference for animal-related games...I think I just want animal friends.

A Short Hike is a seamless mix of Proteus and Animal Crossing with its own originality and charm. It provides a relaxing journey as you glide around the mountains, and embark on walking and climbing quests - without having to actually hike for real. And it costs around five pounds so it's really cheap to pick up and enjoy. Oh and finally, I would really recommend playing with a controller rather than a keyboard. It’s a much better experience.

If this list has helped you find a relaxing game then why not share it with a friend. Meanwhile, I'm gonna head back to my fake hike. My fake muscles need work.