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Getting down with Downtime Dice and designing for mental health

Can a pair of dice help promote better mental health? If you ask the folks at All Right? and McCarthy Design, the answer is most definitely "yes."

Go. Go, go, go, go, go, go, go.

Sound familiar?

Much has been written about how busy our lives are – and just as much, of course, has been written about how unhealthy that really is, including for our mental and emotional health. Similarly, managing all the “busyness” of our lives – or at least technologies and services that can help – is big business, too.

But solutions for what seems like a very 21st century problem don’t always have to involve the most cutting-edge apps or innovative (yet also terribly expensive) services like Uber Eats. In fact, sometimes they can be as simple as pictures on dice. Seriously.

Down in Canterbury, McCarthy Design and All Right? (yes, the question mark is part of the name) have come up with “Downtime Dice,” which – as the name suggests – are literal dice meant to encourage people to think about downtime, or taking a break from the normal stresses of the day. The dice feature suggestions for downtime activities that can improve a person’s wellbeing, such as going out into the great outdoors or connecting with others (at least if you’re a more extroverted person).

According to All Right? manager Sue Turner, “They’re like pit stops in a race where you just go into to fill up energy.”

Brightly coloured, the dice have quite a few more sides than a traditional dice you might use for a game of craps or Yahtzee, and easy-to-interpret images so that, when they’re rolled, a person can easily tell what is being suggested as an activity.

It should also be noted this isn’t McCarthy Design’s first foray into designing with a goal of improving mental health and wellbeing: they won a Gold Pin at last year’s Best Design Awards for their “Habit Sticks,” which took home the prize in the Graphic category.

Check out this podcast with Unfiltered's Jake Millar about mental health and more:

While most Downtime Dice can be found in Christchurch, they are available throughout Aotearoa at www.allright.org.nz/dice. While $10 for one or $15 a pair sounds a bit pricey (though postage is included), they can be picked up for free, too, at a variety of locations in Christchurch, such as Black Betty café and C1.

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