Let’s be honest: despite the benefits of our brave new world of instant communication and rapidly advancing technology, there are some real downsides too. As a society, we have never been more aware of international disaster, and setting boundaries around when and how we absorb information has never been more challenging. When things are stressful, it can be easy to get caught in the social media vortex with no clear escape and no way to calm down.
But the tiny computer in our pockets can be our friend, not just our frenemy. You just need to know where to find the pockets of quiet it can provide.
Here are some gentle, meditative, kind experiences you can access on your phone. Where social media might spin us out, these gentle, meditative games can be fun distractions, panic attack circuit-breakers, or even help us be kinder to ourselves.
I Love Hue
I Love Hue is a particularly pretty matching game that asks players to sort a series of colourful tiles into a gradient. The game offers a wide series of technicolour puzzles across eight different levels, ranging from Beginner to Visionary.
Set to a tinkling, meditative soundtrack, its balance of challenging puzzles couched in forgiving, low-stakes design that lets you revisit or retry different stages whenever you like, this is the perfect game for relaxing a stressed-out brain.
#SelfCare is the debut app from Truluv Studios, a studio committed to making digital experiences that genuinely improves people’s lives. The studio focusses on a psychological theory called ‘tend and befriend.’ The theory posits that lots of people, especially women, respond to challenges with strong, pro-social impulses, like communication, friendship, and community protection, instead of just responding with fight or flight.
Prune is a game about cultivation: a player watches over a little tree as it tries to grow towards the light, and you help it get there by pruning back wayward branches. Its minimalist art style and gentle, ambient soundtrack make it a perfect way to focus and calm an unquiet mind, and to help you relax.
My Little Terrarium
Here’s another one for nature lovers. My Little Terrarium lets you design and tend, well, a little terrarium. Choosing from a few different basic terrariums, each little bottle of plants can be customised significantly, and different plants and features will attract different cute critters to your terrarium. Like #SelfCare, the game encourages you to check back in daily to water your plants, or reap the rewards of your diligent gardening. This game is perfect if you’re looking for a pretty game you can check in on every so often in a more idle way, all set to a gorgeous classical piano score.
(This article has been updated since its original publication in April 2021.)