I’m always on the look-out for new ways to relax, as I’m prone to feeling stressed quite easily. I’m also no stranger to anxiety, so having some methods at hand for relaxing and tuning out chaotic thoughts can be really beneficial. A few months ago I discovered an awesome way to relax and be creative at the same time when at home –> Minecraft.
It’s a sandbox game where you can create cool things out of blocks. You can do whatever you want in there, really. There’s a Survival mode where you can get hurt and even killed by the things you come across in the world, but I play in Creative mode where I don’t have to stress about creatures, hunger, or accidentally falling off a cliff (frustratingly did that multiple times when I tried out Survival). I can just peacefully create whatever I feel like creating, and I really enjoy it.
I initially spent time building houses for myself in different settings for a couple of months when I started playing this game on my PC. Small houses, big houses, mansions, underground homes, houses in the sky…. always modeling them according to where I would actually want to live if this was the real world. I started adding some farming and gardening near my houses, growing vegetables and plants, and I even built a pen for some cows, sheep and pigs, which eventually turned into a proper animal barn next to my house! There were also chickens in a separate coop with a little outside area for them to enjoy. 🐔
It was very relaxing!
At some point I started to explore the world a bit more, venturing out from my immediate surroundings, and discovered that there are pre-existing little villages here and there, with simple Minecraft people living in them. My interest in this game immediately doubled.
After creating a new world, I flew around for ages across different types of continents, looking for a pre-existing little village to visit. I wondered around for several nights and days (about half an hour in real world time) before finally finding a good-looking village. It looked cozy and I decided to have an extended stay and build a house where I can live among the villagers for a while. I didn’t just want to create a new world again and start over, which I used to do when I finished a house, so after it was done, I stayed.
Sometimes parts of the village buildings were missing and needed repairs, there was no bed in a house, or other bits and pieces were a bit off here and there, so I started to make repairs. I added some flower beds, fixed roofs, terraformed the surroundings and added some furniture to the houses.
I started thinking of it as my village.
The village was looking healthy, things were fixed and people seemed as happy as they can for being simple Minecraft villagers. So I decided to start growing the village! Add a few more little houses. See if the villagers would breed? They did! I spent a lot of time terraforming around the village and chopping off trees to make space for new houses. I added a bigger farm area with pigs, cows and sheep, and the separate chicken coop I used to build in my earlier worlds got an upgrade. My own house got bigger, prettier, and now included a front garden with a pond and some garden furniture. I added turtles to live in the pond.
At this point I was fully enjoying the Minecraft experience and spending a lot of time in my village. When I came home from work, I cooked dinner, and between checking the boiling potatoes and the vegetables in the oven, I was terraforming in the forest and chopping trees. During the day I was looking forward to getting home from work so I could get back to the village. At this point it was more like the size of a town than a small village.
I had dinner at my desk, in front of the PC, while playing the game. After dinner, I played some more. I have set Alexa to inform me via the Echo speakers in my kitchen that it’s time to get ready for bed when the clock hits 10pm – the notification passed, and I was still sitting at my PC hours later, immersed in the village. When I got thirsty, I ignored it because it would mean leaving the game!
I realised I was spending a LOT of time there. 🤔
One morning I had trouble getting up in time for work and arrived to the office late, so I promised myself to go to bed earlier and only play a little bit the next evening. It didn’t happen that way – I was again so engrossed in the village work that I didn’t even hear Alexa telling me it was 10pm! I ended up going to bed after midnight, again, which meant another tired morning and sluggish day at work. I’m very busy at work and cannot afford being sluggish there and leave tasks undone. This happened a few more times until I realised I might have a little problem with Minecraft.
The relaxing game I had discovered that was so amazing at keeping stressful thoughts and anxiety at bay had turned into this time-consuming, all-consuming monster thing that was adding to my stress instead of taking it away. 😟
So, at the moment, while still allowing myself to play the game, I am also trying to come up with some ways of limiting my village time, lessen the addiction, and turn it back into the pleasant and peaceful experience it used to be when I originally started playing. I’ll just go add a roof to an unfinished house first… maybe the floorboards as well… maybe a few flower beds…
Have you ever had similar experiences with things you thought would be relaxing or helpful but turned out to stress you even more? How did you fix it?