Gaming As a Stress Reliever

smritijindal
@smritijindal
26 Jul 2020

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.


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

Games provide instant gratification, which can be a swift respite for those leading demanding lives, whether as students or at work. When struggling through setbacks, a good game gives us small, attainable goals that help create a feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction. It gives us those little happy moments that are somewhere ignored in the race of working, thriving, and becoming successful. This may be why more than 60 percent of CEOs, CFOs, and other executives take breaks at work every day to play games, including classic and free online games like Solitaire.

Whenever we do something pleasurable, like eating something delicious or spending time with loved ones, our brains release dopamine, colloquially called the “happiness hormone.” We need positive things in our lives, but this can be difficult due to circumstance, social anxiety, or cost. Dopamine is also released when people play video games, making them a cost-effective and easily accessible way to brighten your day. In moderation, this can be used to help us “recharge” before re-joining the real world.

Some video game makers are now developing games to explicitly promote better mental health. Orpheus Self Care Entertainment, a start-up that was founded last year, is publishing virtual reality games in which players practice mindfulness and meditation through activities like dancing. In one game, players move their bodies in virtual reality to create patterns and shapes that move and change color.

Some in the industry said the interactive nature of video games made them more effective than film or television at dealing with mental health. Embodying a video game character who suffers from depression might leave a deeper impression of the challenges of the illness than simply watching a film about the same character.


Conclusion

Humans are social animals, and one of our most fundamental needs is to feel connected to others. Video games create a social environment that encourages interaction among people. The anonymity afforded by playing online can make social interaction feel possible for introverts and others who face difficulty meeting others face-to-face.

For many, this has proven to be a stepping stone toward lifelong friendships. Last year, rapper and actor Ice T tweeted that he was mourning a friend he had never met in person: “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 with you sets a very different vibe than asking someone to talk about their problems”. It creates a vibe full of enjoyment and togetherness among the people going through mental worries. Playing any game that you truly relish which a bunch of people can be a stress reliever. Virtually any game that you find to be truly fun can be beneficial by providing an escape from daily stress, a break from patterns of rumination, or a way to build positive feelings. Play, tune into your feelings during and after you play, and see what you enjoy the most!


Edited by Annanya Chaturvedi


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