One of my biggest struggles is how difficult I sometimes find it to concentrate on stories. When anxiety and depression are bad, we really need the distraction of some good entertainment, but concentrating can just seem to take too much energy and effort, even if it’s just casually watching a TV show.
So, with that in mind, here are some of my recommendations for low-concentration entertainment for low and anxious days.
Graphic Novels. I only got into graphic novels last year, but they’re perfect for flying through a story. They’re easy to read, visually appealing, and you can read a whole trade paperback in less than an hour, so they don’t feel intimidating. Rat Queens is a good bet, as it has a fairly simple plot, great characters, and is lots of fun. I also recommend The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, because it is hilarious. (My full review for Rat Queens is here, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl here)
Novels are tougher, but I recommend some light and breezy contemporary fiction — something that’s easy to pick up and get invested in. I particularly love Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
Stardew Valley. I specifically bought this game because of anxiety, when playing any sort of narrative-based game seemed like too much effort, and it is perfect. It’s basically Harvest Moon for the PC — a farming/life simulator game, where you get to grow crops, raise animals, clear out rocks, catch fish, and bribe an entire town into liking you with constant gifts. It’s highly addictive, but great for forgetting real life stress for a while.
Anything by Telltale Games. I especially recommend The Walking Dead, with the caveat that it’s not warm and happy and fluffy by any stretch of the imagination. But Telltale games combine the absorbing interactive element of a video game with the always-progressive narrative of TV or film, so you don’t have chance to get that “but I’m just running across a field” boredom. They pull you along with them. Plus, they’re just excellent stories.
Critical Role. This is wonderful, long, low-focus entertainment. It’s perfect for if things feel too quiet and you want some background entertainment, or if you just want to collapse on the sofa and regular TV seems like it takes too much effort to watch. It’s a really relaxed viewing experience, and really funny and compelling too. It carried me through a lot of this year so far. (The Youtube playlist is here, and my full review is here)
Youtube. Again, it provides great “low effort” entertainment, where you don’t need too much focus, and can even just put it on in the background. I enjoy Dan and Phil for quick fun videos, and I recommend their Undertale series for something longer and simultaneously light and absorbing.
I also recommend Sharla in Japan, and her vlogging channel Sharmander, for fun videos about life in Japan, doddlevloggle, for the casual chatty vlogging channel of awesome Youtube musician Dodie Clark, BananaJamana, who does absolutely AMAZING Disney and Nintendo themed art, and Bry and Candice, who are trying to travel to every country in the world and are generally chill and lovely to watch.
Gilmore Girls. For the three people in the world who’ve never seen it, and for anyone who hasn’t rewatched it in a while. It’s a wonderfully cheering and comforting show, like a warm blanket and a delicious mug of hot chocolate, but in television form.
And those are the things I’ve been living off recently! But what about you guys? What do you like to watch and read when feeling low? Please share any recommendations in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts.