Finding My Zen in Animal Crossing

Finding My Zen in Animal Crossing
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As you may have noticed, the world is having a bit of a moment right now. I started self-isolating as soon as the first case of the new coronavirus appeared in my county, which means I’ve been inside for a long, long time. It turns out that it’s possible for a month to feel like a year.

I’m not exactly good at being inside. I like to be out and about, to see my friends, and to maintain an active lifestyle. Forced to sit at home, I find myself checking the news too often. I refresh the page again and again, watching the numbers. I read the horror stories about what could happen to me if I catch COVID-19. 

Anxiety, depression, and cystic fibrosis are old friends. The CF population is more likely to experience the clinical definitions of anxiety and depression than the general population. In the past, my anxiety has literally made me ill. There’s nothing quite like worrying about a virus while your worries make your chest close up, feeling like you can’t breathe.

I’m not here to talk about that though. I’m here to talk about the escapism I’ve found. 

In March, the new Animal Crossing video game was released. The game gives you control of an island community, from building houses for your villagers to expanding your own domicile and decorating it how you see fit. I instantly relaxed once I had the game in my hands.

I can spend hours picking fruit or catching fish, listening to the cheery music fall over my ears. I miss hiking, especially this time of year, but having this virtual facsimile of an idyllic paradise has been more helpful than I initially thought.

I’ve even been able to “see” my friends. We can’t meet in person, but we can hang out with each other in Animal Crossing, visiting each other’s islands, sitting by a fire, or showing each other cool new outfits. It’s been a balm, something I joke about constantly.

Animal Crossing lets me live my fantasies, such as going outside and seeing my friends. I even have a little mask that my character wears and that many of my friends have taken to wearing. It normalizes what once was strange. If everyone wears a mask, even online, it becomes part of the everyday landscape. 

We take respite where we can. For me, it’s through the screen and through the pages of books. It lets me feel connected to the wider world again, like I’m not stuck in self-isolation. It gives me hope, too: If people can express kindness and creativity in this self-contained universe, they can do it again.

When booting up the game, it feels easier to breathe, like the pain in my joints can ease off. There are so many ways to address dealing with mental health and cystic fibrosis, but maybe we can start small. Kick back, relax, and stick your toes in the virtual sand. It’s going to be OK.

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Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

I am a 29 year old Bay Area based writer living with cystic fibrosis.
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I am a 29 year old Bay Area based writer living with cystic fibrosis.
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