Gaming As a Stress Reliever

Profile picture for @smritijindal

Smriti jindal

19 October 2023

6 Mins

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over the other.

Stress is ubiquitous and follows us everywhere. It is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It may surface from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is all-pervasive and a universal human experience that unfurls to all age groups. Though it’s a normal feeling, its reverberations on our health depend upon its type. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline, but when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm our health.

Why and How is Stress Generated?

According to data collected by the American Psychological Association for the Stress in America Survey, teen stress rivals that of adults. Results of the survey show that not only do teens identify that their stress levels are not healthy, but they also underestimate the consequences stress has on their health.

The recurrent causes of stress amongst youth and teens could be parent’s expectation, sibling’s rivalry, status issues, financial issues, academic pressure, relationship issues, feeling of competition and jealousy with fellow mates which ends up giving them tension, frustration, worry, sadness and withdrawal, which commonly last for few days. Most of the students are pseudo, keeping themselves in a rosy world, and in a confrontation with the reality, they tend to panic, therefore pushing themselves in an abyss of stress, and anxiety.

Reach and Impact of Stress

According to The American Institute of Stress, about 33 percent of people report feeling extremely stressed, 77 percent of the people experience stress that affects their physical health whereas 73 percent of people have stress that impacts their mental health. The impact of such high levels of mental illness in young people is far-reaching.

Within the medical field and government policy, there has been an increasing shift towards promoting wellbeing to protect against the development of mental disorders. One such way of relieving anxiety among individuals and inciting positivity in them is playing video games which can be a more effective way of bouncing back from negative moods than passive forms of media like television or movies.

Myths and Stigmas Surrounding Gaming

Unfortunately, gaming is one of those leisurely activities that have a bit of a perceived stigma to it. It’s usually portrayed by the mainstream as an activity suitable only for the unsociable, i.e. the overweight, geeky individual, alone in the dark in front of a television.

However, in the advent of the new millennium, those views and stigmas are being challenged and slowly disappearing. Video games are losing their status as a niche interest and becoming more accepted as a general form of entertainment and stress busters among all age groups. They have also come a long way in terms of technology and, in the process, have become one of our strongest tools of social, emotional, and psychological upliftment. No other medium (books, movies, music, and so on) gives you such an interactively visual experience as video games and the potential for its use to change lives cannot be overstated.

Research and Evidence Supporting Gameplay As a Method of Relieving Stress

However, initially, people may not find any semblance of mindfulness and a stress-free state from playing something as trivial as a video game. But there are a plethora of ways which prove that playing video games assists people to overcome stress, depression, and anger. Researchers also examined the relationships among work-related fatigue, daily hassles, social support, coping style, recovery experience, and the use of video and computer games for recovery purposes and found that people who more strongly associated with gameplay are easily able to divert their attention from stressful situations to a more satisfied and happy state of mind.

One study examined players as they played either competitive or cooperative games. As predicted, there was a difference in stress levels after playing, and those who played cooperatively experienced a higher decrease in stress levels, but the difference was slight—both groups experienced decreases in stress by playing the game. Besides, both groups retained positive feelings toward the other players, though there was slightly higher regard for those who were cooperative. This is another way in which video games can provide positive social experiences and a decrease in stress.

Another study used a survey of 1614 game players to examine the use of computer games as a tool for stress recovery. Results showed that games are indeed used as a coping tool after exposure to stressful situations and strain and that this “recovery experience” is a significant facet of gaming.

Minesweeper, a classic puzzle game found on many computers and mobile devices, serves not only as an engaging pastime but also as an effective stress reliever. In Minesweeper, the objective is to clear a grid of hidden mines while avoiding detonation. Players must carefully uncover safe tiles, using logic and deduction to pinpoint the locations of the mines. This process of problem-solving and concentration can be an excellent way to divert your mind from stressors, offering a mental challenge that promotes focus and mindfulness. The game's cognitive demands and quick gameplay align with the general idea that engaging in stimulating activities can alleviate stress. It provides a break from daily worries, allowing players to immerse themselves in a task that demands their full attention, ultimately helping them unwind and relax. Try the game here.

Why Gaming May Just Be the Last Ray of Hope for You

Games offer instant gratification, providing a quick escape for busy individuals. They offer achievable goals that boost a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Games provide small moments of happiness that often go unnoticed in the midst of work. It's no wonder that over 60 percent of executives, including CEOs and CFOs, take daily breaks to play games like Solitaire.

When we engage in pleasurable activities, our brains release dopamine, known as the "happiness hormone." Playing video games is a cost-effective and easily accessible way to stimulate dopamine release and brighten one's day. When used in moderation, gaming can help us recharge before returning to the real world.

Recognizing the potential for promoting mental health, some game developers are creating games explicitly designed for this purpose. For instance, Orpheus Self Care Entertainment develops virtual reality games that incorporate mindfulness and meditation activities such as dancing. By immersing players in interactive experiences, video games can have a more profound impact on addressing mental health challenges compared to films or television shows.

Conclusion

Video games foster social connections, catering to our inherent need for social interaction. The online gaming experience allows introverts and those struggling with face-to-face interactions to engage with others, thanks to the anonymity it provides.

These connections often lead to long-lasting friendships. Rapper and actor Ice T shared his grief over the loss of a friend he had only known through gaming: "Sadly I lost a Friend today... A person I’ve never met face to face... But someone I played video games with for years."

Asking someone to play a game together creates a different vibe compared to discussing problems. It generates an atmosphere of enjoyment and togetherness, offering solace for individuals dealing with mental worries. Engaging in any game that brings genuine joy can act as a stress reliever and cultivate positive emotions.

How Can Now&Me help?

Come and join us at Now&Me to share your gaming experiences! Whether you want to discuss your favorite games, talk about the positive impact gaming has had on your life, or seek advice from others, our community is here to listen and support you.In times when gaming becomes overwhelming or begins to negatively impact your well-being, seeking support is essential. Platforms like Now&Me can be a valuable resource for finding help and guidance.

Now&Me provides a safe and supportive platform to connect with experienced mental health and self care professionals who can offer you guidance and support. These professionals can offer personalized assistance and strategies to help you regain control and maintain a healthy balance with gaming.

Our peer community is welcoming, non-judgmental, and inclusive, creating a warm and supportive environment to share your thoughts and feelings.You can interact with like-minded peers or seek guidance from experienced experts like therapists and life coaches, instantly. What are you waiting for? Download for FREE!

Share this blog

Keep Reading
Read all
user_group_img

8394 users have benefited
from FREE CHAT last month

Start Free Chat
start_free_chat_cta_image