Most people go through anxiety at least once in their lifetime. In the UK alone, 1 in 6 people suffer each week with anxiety and depression, and in 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety reported.
I happen to be a sufferer of severe, debilitating anxiety. My anxiety has little to no triggers and can occur whenever it damn well pleases. I was diagnosed as a child, but since moving out and having my own place, heavy responsibilities and major problems over the last year occurred and it became unbearable to live with. I slowly left who I was last year in the past, and I am a completely different person. The one thing I relied on when having a panic attack was distraction techniques – and I found that through mobile gaming.
I’ve never been a huge fan of mobile gaming whatsoever, but during this time in my life, it has become such a vital part of my wellbeing. When I feel an attack coming on I reach for my phone, plug in earphones and game away. I found that articles I had researched about mobile games for anxiety included ones you buy, but that’s not something I want to focus on because when you’re in a situation where you need an escape route, buying an app isn’t something you may want to do. So, I have come up with a list of games that are free to play and download that has helped me deal with crippling anxiety. Quick disclaimer before we jump in – I have not been asked to write about these apps at all, I’m purely writing this to possibly help people out. No money has been made (or will be made) from this post!
- Whale Trail
Okay, I’ve been a secret fan of Whale Trail for a while but I recently reached for it again. It’s an endless scroller where you play as Willow the Whale and you collect rainbow coloured bubbles to stay up in the air and avoid clouds. Honestly, it’s such a fun, light-hearted game that has helped me out a bunch. Not to mention, the soundtrack is catchy and you’ll definitely find yourself humming along to it before you know it. Available on iOS and Android.
2. Pokemon Shuffle
Pokemon Shuffle is a freemium game in which you line up matching pokemon to defeat the enemy pokemon. It’s like connect 4 but with Pokemon! There are options to buy coins to progress further, but it’s 100% not necessary. It also features challenge and expert levels if you want a real brain-teaser. You can also collect each Pokemon you defeat and take them with you as you progress. Available on iOS and Android.
3. Word Stacks
I’ve never been one for word games, but this one is actually fun. It’s like a more complicated wordsearch, but each level is a new category. It will pick your brain and will help you to calm down if you’re stuck in an anxiety attack. Available on iOS and Android.
4. Hello Cats!
Okay, Hello Cats is one of the cutest and most addictive games I’ve found. It’s a puzzle game which focuses on waking cats or getting them out of a tricky area. Sounds like real life with my cat to be honest. You have to draw shapes which interact with the level in order to save the beloved kitty, and again, it’s addictive. Once you start playing, you won’t stop until you’ve saved all the little angels. Available on iOS and Android.
Ah, Hearthstone. You guys know this game I’m sure, but it’s really, really fun. Made by Blizzard, you play a virtual card game where you use different types of cards with unique powers and moves to defeat your opponent. You can build new decks to suit you and your classes too, so you’re not restricted to choosing and staying within one class. Not to mention, you can play online against your friends no matter what platform you’re playing on. Lewis and I often play from PC to Mobile – and even though we’re in the same environment, I have often played a few games with him when I don’t feel well enough to interact socially. Available on iOS and Android.
6. Animal Crossing Pocket Camp
Who doesn’t like Animal Crossing? Animal Crossing Pocket Camp gives you a little town in your pocket that you can enjoy whenever you feel like. There’s no incentive to play every day if you don’t want to, but it is fun to just pick up and play whenever you want to escape to your town for a while. You can customize your campsite and character, along with making friends with the other residents in the town. Available on iOS and Android.
7. Sonic The Hedgehog, Super Monkey Ball and Crazy Taxi
Some of my favourite Sega classics are surprisingly, totally free on your mobile. Playing something fast paced like Sonic which makes you concentrate fully helped me a huge amount because it meant it would take my mind off of any unwanted sensations or anxiety feelings. The same goes for Super Monkey Ball and Crazy Taxi. Available on iOS and Android.
I hope these games help you when you’re in need. Distraction techniques can help in the moment when you’re really feeling the anxiety build up, but don’t forget to take time to help you deal with your mental health just as you would your physical health. If you need immediate help, there are phone numbers available for you to call, like the Samaritans and your local Crisis services. Always remember, you’re not alone and you’re not abnormal for feeling the way you do. You are a warrior, you’re stronger than you think and you can get through it.