With the rise of video gaming and the growing conversation surrounding mental health, it’s important to explore the relationship between the two. For years, gaming has been a source of entertainment and a way to bond with friends and family. But what about the impact it has on our mental wellbeing? Can gaming actually help manage anxiety and depression?
The short answer is yes, gaming can be a useful tool in managing and improving mental health. This is because video games have been found to provide a form of stress relief, distraction, and even a sense of accomplishment which can all contribute to reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
One study published in the journal JMIR Mental Health found that people who played relaxing games such as Animal Crossing or Tetris for 30 minutes reported a decrease in negative emotions and an increase in positive ones. Similarly, games that encourage exercise and movement such as Wii Fit can improve mood and energy levels as well as overall physical health.
Video games can also provide a sense of community, especially for those who may have difficulty socializing in person. Online multiplayer games like World of Warcraft or Minecraft can provide a platform for players to make new friends and strengthen social connections. Even single-player games can provide a sense of belonging through shared experiences and online forums.
Another benefit of gaming for mental health is the sense of accomplishment it can provide. Completing challenging levels or finishing a difficult game can boost self-esteem and give a sense of pride in one’s abilities. In games like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing where players create their own worlds, the act of creating something can be therapeutic and empowering.
However, it’s important to note that like with any other activity, moderation is key. Spending excessive amounts of time gaming can lead to negative consequences such as decreased physical activity, sleep problems, and social isolation. It’s important to balance gaming with other activities that promote mental health such as exercise, creative projects, and spending time with loved ones.
Furthermore, it’s important to choose games that promote relaxation and positivity rather than those that are violent or aggressive. Games that have a calming effect, such as puzzle games, simulation games, and games with soothing music and visuals, are a better choice for those looking to improve their mental health.
In conclusion, while gaming should not be seen as a cure-all for mental health issues, it can be a helpful addition to a larger mental health plan. As long as the games played are chosen thoughtfully and played in moderation, gaming can provide a sense of relaxation, social connection, and accomplishment that can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.