Everyone has their own preferred forms of self-care. Sometimes it’s getting organized, sometimes it’s revamping a skincare routine, sometimes it’s deleting an ex’s phone number. Anything that you enjoy and that helps you unwind can be beneficial for mental and emotional self-care. According to MercyCare, there are a few other self-care categories, too: physical, practical, spiritual, and social.

For me, a personal favorite form of self-care is a nice, relaxing gaming session. But do I consider it self-care every time I sit down to play a game? Not really. The situation has to be just right. Here are some ways to set yourself up for the perfect self-care gaming session.

Make your gaming space as cozy as possible

Now that we’re heading into fall, getting cozy is a must. Do whatever you can to make your gaming space cozy, whether that’s adding pillows and blankets, lighting a candle, snuggling up with your pet, etc.

Grab your favorite pair of sweatpants and that emotional support hoodie you’ve kept in your closet for seven years (admit it, we all have one). Bring your favorite snacks — but be cautious of mindless eating! Most importantly, make sure you’ve got water on standby, and maybe a nice cup of tea or hot cocoa for maximum coziness.

Carve out an uninterrupted chunk of time

The timeframe in which you choose to have your self-care gaming session is totally up to you. Some people like to unwind with video games after a long day, while others might use them to clear their heads for big projects ahead. Either way, make sure you give yourself enough uninterrupted time to play. You can even turn off your phone or set it to Do Not Disturb during your gaming session if you think it will get in the way of your self-care goal.

With that said, you might not want to spend an entire day in the gaming chair. For a self-care gaming session, an hour or so might do the trick. That way, you have time to relax without neglecting anything else you might have to do that day.

A person plays Nintendo Switch on a blanket for a self-care gaming session
Photo by Lucie Liz from Pexels

Choose your self-care game accordingly

Speaking of self-care goals, those will likely factor into which game(s) you choose to play during your session. Do you want to relax? Do you want to blow off steam? Do you want to let all your emotions out in a good cry?

For relaxing, I’d recommend something that doesn’t take too much brainpower or effort, but you still enjoy. I’ve been playing Lake to unwind lately; there’s something about driving through that beautiful town in September and delivering mail every day that’s so relaxing to me.

For blowing off steam, maybe choose a game where you can whip some enemy butt, like your favorite shooter game. And if you want a good cry, maybe check out an emotional story-based game like Life is Strange 2. I am not ashamed to admit I BLUBBERED a couple of times.

Game with people that will give you a positive experience

You don’t necessarily have to play alone during a self-care gaming session. Feel free to sign on with your friends, but make sure you’re playing with positive vibes. You don’t need any toxic gamers when you’re trying to give yourself a break. If someone is affecting you negatively, you don’t have to play with them.

The bottom line is that everyone’s different, so think about what you want your self-care gaming session to accomplish. Listen to your mental health needs!