“Don’t check your phone when you wake up” is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. I’m a firm believer that the first moments of every morning will make or break the day ahead (or at least the first few hours). Stub a toe getting out of bed? Now you’re in a foul mood that could snowball into an unpleasant day.  Thus, the last thing I want is to feel down because I read a depressing/infuriating news story or social media post. While I’ve generally been good about following this rule, I’ve slipped up recently thanks to the current tire fire that is the Cornavirus pandemic. Thankfully, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has helped get my morning mood back on track.

I’m a newcomer to Animal Crossing and gave New Horizons a shot both out of a long-standing curiosity and the recent need for a major positive outlet. I’m in love with it. The series’ aimless, “make your own fun” design always seemed like a turn-off for a purpose-driven player like myself. To my surprise, planting trees and catching bugs has been engrossing. Earning Nook Miles by completing a checklist of objectives scratches the itch for achieving tangible goals as well. I could sing the game’s praises all day, but that’s not the point of this piece.


Since I’ve all but surrendered by life to Tom Nook’s friendlier take on Survivor, I’ve been keeping my Switch at my bedside. That way, I can get a jump on the game’s activities as soon as I wake up. Doing so has noticeably improved my mood each morning. Turns out that listening to Poncho the bear brag about his swole-ness feels more satisfying than reading news story #475 about how society is unraveling in some way. Additionally, completing chores around my island gets both the productive and creative juices in my brain going. I’m more primed to tackle my real-life To-Do list after spending my first hour of consciousness pulling weeds and decorating my virtual home.

Odds are we’ve all felt the weight of social distancing. Even a natural introvert like myself misses the freedom of regular human interaction. Provided they’re up when you are, start the morning by visiting a friend’s island or sending them a positive letter. Not only will get what’s likely much-needed socializing but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you brightened their morning too. Just don’t chop your friend’s trees down–unless they find that hilarious to which chop away!

Now that many of us are forced to stay cooped up at home, maintaining good mental health is more important than ever. I’m a pretty optimistic person but I’ve still experienced occasional bouts of anxiety and fear from the uncertainty of everything going on. Kicking off the day with something as delightful and productive as Animal Crossing: New Horizons does a lot to nip those bad vibes in the bud from the get-go. I advise anyone else playing to do the same. It’s not quite as clever as a rock mining exploit, but I think you’ll be just as pleased with the results.

If you’d like to visit the great island that is America 2, hit me up using the Switch code 5140-8943-6422. We have excellent pears and mostly assembled dinosaur skeletons.


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