Best Video Games to Unwind With

You worked hard all day. Maybe you even worked an extra half hour because hey, no more commuting! Then you checked the kids’ homework, set them up with fun crafts for the afternoon, then made dinner.

Now the kids are in bed. Your partner is unwinding with a beer and on their phone. How do you relax before heading to bed and doing it all over again?

Well, call me a geek, but I’ll never say no to a good video game! I’m a lifelong gamer, and my (embarrassingly large) collection contains quite a few relaxing games that help me de-stress. These are a few you should try to help you take it easy.

  1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Courtesy Nintendo
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62712014

Having launched right when the quarantines started going into effect, the latest Animal Crossing has become the new outside for people social distancing. People have already had date nights, birthday parties and even weddings on the game, using the real-time and social connection features to stay close to loved ones and pass the time.

Being a social simulation game, this isn’t a game where you’ll be fighting monsters. This is a game where you’ll be building a happy community of animals – it’s a great escape from the real world and is perfect for all ages.

2. Slime Rancher

Courtesy Monomi Park
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49348477

This game owned my life for the entire month of January! You play as Beatrix LeBeau, a young woman who travels to a lawless planet full of adorable slimes. The object of the game is to just build the best farm for you, whether that means having one of each slime, making tons of money, or just finding using breed combinations.

And if you’re looking for a little story, Bea occasionally will receive Starmails from an old friend named Casey…

3. Tekken 7

Courtesy Bandai Namco
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49348477

For those among you who really need to blow off steam, a fighting game might be best for you. Although 5 is my personal favorite, Tekken 7 has a decent roster and tons of customization options. Some unique characters like Eliza from Tekken Revolution are available for purchase, along with guest characters like Geese from Fatal Fury, Noctis from Final Fantasy XV and Akuma from Street Fighter.

The story format is a bit of a deviation from older Tekken games; a la Tekken 6, 7 follows the perspective of an “outside” character and ultimately relates it back to the Mishima family.

4. Persona 5

Courtesy Atlus
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50436296

RPGs allow for dungeon crawling that provides an endless stream of monster fights, and Persona has a dungeon you can visit time and time again throughout the game. If your Phantom Thieves are leveled up enough, you could wander through Mementos for hours and work toward filling up the compendium. You could also pursue the many sidequests the game has to offer, or try to max out your Confidants. I don’t know about you, but working toward such a level of completion is a pretty fun way to relax at the end of the day.

Stay safe, stay sane and game on!

Best Background Music for Working From Home

Put away that Beyoncé playlist! You might have the greatest mix on the planet, but that might be working to your disadvantage.

Working from home comes with perks, but it also comes with more distractions. You now have your TV, your partner/kids/pets, video games, books and your bed! Staying focused is probably a bigger challenge than when you just had your phone by you at the office. Listening to upbeat music is going to tempt you into singing along; and if you have your playlist going, you’re going to have catchy song after catchy song playing. Talk about a time sink!

Bossa nova and jazz

We all know what jazz is, but what’s bossa nova, you ask? It’s an offshoot of jazz originating from Brazil. These songs typically don’t have lyrics, which makes for excellent background noise while you’re working.

Bossa nova and jazz playlists are pretty easy to find on YouTube, and channels such as Cafe Music BGM Channel constantly host live radio streams of lyric-free background music. No matter what you pick, you’re guaranteed to feel like you’re working in a nice little coffee shop.

Classical music

Who says classical music is just for piano players and middle-school music programs? Sometimes songs that you’ve heard a hundred times are just what you need to get into a work mindset. Whether it’s slow, somber compositions such as “Moonlight Sonata”, upbeat tunes like “Für Elise”, or fast-paced arrangements such as “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2”, you’re sure to find a song that fits your mood for the day.

The best part is that because these songs have been around for so long, that it’s easy to find arrangements on multiple instruments! If you feel like hearing “Canon in D” on the guitar, you can. If you want to hear “Flight of the Bumblebee” on the flute, you can.

Video game music

This might sound like a weird one, but hear me out: video game music is already composed to blend into the background. It’s meant to be heard, but not focused upon while you play, and modern VG music is a far cry from the cheerful chiptune from the arcade games of the 80s. Orchestras, electronic instruments and more are used to make the music more sophisticated and pleasant to listen to.

Relaxing songs like those found on the Slime Rancher and Rain soundtracks are good places to start. But if you’re a gamer (or want to be), you’ll definitely find something that suits your tastes.

Regardless of your preference, make sure that your background music helps – and doesn’t hinder – your focus!

To Dress or Not to Dress: Should You Dress Up for Remote Work?

The crowds are divided when it comes to dressing up for remote work. Some enjoy the sense of normalcy that putting on a full outfit and doing their hair gives them, while some are loving the idea of earning money in their pjs. Others still enjoy being comfortable, but still have to worry about video conferences and being seen by their colleagues.

Dressing for working remotely really boils down to personal preference. For some, changing into work clothes gets them into a working mindset, and helps them focus on their duties. They also know they’ll be prepared for any meetings or impromptu video calls. That mental shift is necessary for some to get motivated to work, and allows them to stay focused throughout the day.

On the other hand, some people enjoy working in their comfies. Having a break from wearing ties and makeup and heels is welcome for many, and the adjustment to working in non-work clothes is easy and welcomed. Being dressed like this also makes it easy to switch from working to homeschooling or housework. Once the day is done, you can move right on to the next task without having to stop and change. Your laundry load is also lessened.

If neither option seems right for you, some people also opt for “hybrid” looks: where they’re dressed and presentable from the waist up, but opt for yoga pants or pajamas and socks for the bottom half. This look is perfect for people who have video calls to do, or have a few interviews planned, but still want to stay comfortable.

So do what works for you! The key is to remember that it’s not just about the clothes; it’s about your state of mind as well. If you need to look the part to help you get the job done, make time to get dressed! If being in comfy clothes helps you be even more productive, then throw your hair up into a messy bun and open your laptop. Just remember to mute the TV before answering the phone. 😉

Adjusting to Working From Home

COVID-19 has a lot of us working from home – and going from having a proper desk and office to working from your coffee table can be a rough adjustment, especially when you have kids to homeschool and relatives to care for.

With all this new stress, the last thing you need is to feel uncomfortable while trying to get your work done! Here are some ways to adjust to your new schedule as easy as possible.

Remember to take breaks

As someone who has been working from home for some years now, I can tell you that it can be very tempting to camp in front of the computer for your entire shift. You minimize bathroom breaks, and meals are eaten with one hand while you move your mouse with the other. Since you’re not present in the office, you want to prove you’re still working by putting out constant results.

While this may be fine and dandy for your boss, who’s happy to see you aren’t slacking, this really takes a toll on your mental and physical health! Sitting for long periods of time can be deeply unhealthy, and stresses you out from feeling chained to your computer.

Make it a point to step away from your computer once every hour. Do wall-push ups, watch a music video, or grab a snack. It’s

Have a decent makeshift desk

Hunching over your coffee table or leaving your hot laptop on your lap might work for the first couple of days, but you’re going to start feeling that in your back before the week is over. Laying on your stomach and working on your bed is going to give you some serious carpal tunnel, too.

If you don’t have a real desk at home to use, don’t be afraid to take the dining room or kitchen table. If your kids or partner are using it to get their own work done, rotate the seats. Have your partner move to the living room for a while, or give your kids a hands-on project that they can do elsewhere.

Kitchen counters let you work while standing as well, if you’re missing your desk converter. Laptop stands also help keep your computer at eye level, although stacked books or DVDs make for a good alternative.

If all else fails, use a foldable TV dinner tray. You might have limited desk space, but it gets the job done!

Learn to love being at home

The adjustment to remote work can’t just be physical; it has to be mental, too. I’m sure many of you love the idea of working from home, until you had to actually do it. Working from home can be isolating, uncomfortable and downright stressful – but it’s important to remember the upsides…

For starters, you don’t have to deal with any desk or officemates that bothered you. You have to still correspond with them, but at least you won’t be hearing them take personal calls or swear at their computer when it starts acting slow.

And how many people can say they can work while having their cat lay in their lap? Your furbabies are probably thrilled that you’re home all day to cuddle with them.

You can also blast your music! I’m much more productive with some tunes or even an Office rerun playing in the background. If your family is willing to deal with some noise, you’ll be able to jam out while you work without having to wear earbuds.

Times may be tough now, but the last thing you need adding to your stress is a crummy home office!