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How can video games do amazing things for our mental health?

Video Games for Mental Health

What’s your go-to way to care for your mental health? Meditation, maybe? Or yoga? Perhaps even a trip to the gym? Here’s one you may not have considered: video games.

Playing video games can actually provide so many amazing benefits that can help us care for our mental health and build stronger mental resilience.

Blog header: video games for your mental health

Of course, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. I’m sure we’ve all heard that once or twice. That holds especially true in this case. While video games can be a pivotal piece of taking care of your mental health, overdoing it can cause more harm than good. Try to set aside specific times for your self-care gaming and make sure you’re not overdoing it. That’s why I make sure to include it in my me-time routine!

Every person is different and so self care is different for every person, even when it comes to video games – take for example Barb over at Making It Home! What’s important is to find something that works for you and modify it as necessary. I’m here today to share with you how I personally use gaming as a part of my mental health care!


Temporary Escape

The most obvious form of self care video games provide? A temporary escape.

Our day to day lives can be stressful or exhausting or often just downright boring. Maybe even all three. That’s where video games come into play. Turn on your favorite game and suddenly you’ve hopped into another dimension. Depending on the type of game you’re playing, you could be strolling through a lifelike forest in search of enemies or just watering some cartoon flowers for your animal friends. 

Screenshot from Kingdom Hearts 3
Photo from Engadget

Video games grant us an opportunity to explore worlds we have never seen before; worlds that cannot possibly exist in our daily lives. With these beautiful new worlds, we are allowed to escape our real world problems, even if just briefly. In these new worlds, our problems don’t weigh as heavily on our minds. By turning on our favorite games and entering a new dimension, we are allowing our psyche a time to rest. Giving your brain a break is an important facet of any self care routine.


Socialization

Not only do we get to explore new worlds in our video games, we also get to create new friendships — or strengthen existing ones. Socialization is an important part of life and in the daily grind of today’s society, it often gets overlooked. That’s where video games can come into play.

If MMOs, or Massively Multiplayer Online games, are your cup of tea, you can log on and meet people from all over the world who share similar interests as you. Maybe you’re a little too shy for something like that. Instead, hop on a team-based game with your friends and stick to group chat.

Especially with the growth of the internet, video games provide a platform where almost anyone can socialize with their friends and forget about the stressors of their daily lives.


Take out Frustration

Have you ever gotten so frustrated that you just wanna let loose – scream, cry, punch something? One of the beautiful things about video games is that you can do just that! Instead of taking your frustrations out on your loved ones, take them out on those fictional game characters!

Screenshot from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Photo from The Guardian

One of my favorite ways to take out my frustrations is to hop into Breath of the Wild and just pummel away at some Bokoblins. If you’re alone, go ahead and let loose: scream at those bad guys! Studies have shown that shouting can actually help relieve stress, and when you are alone and screaming at a screen it can’t freak anyone else out.

We can’t kill our coworkers or our customers, but we can kill virtual monsters instead!

There is a fine line here that we need to be mindful of, of course. If you find yourself constantly raging at a game, it can be causing more stress rather than helping alleviate it.

Keep tabs on yourself and your gaming habits to ensure you’re staying safe and stress free. 


Brain Boosters

Maybe fighters and shooters aren’t your favorite games to play. No need to worry; games that utilize puzzles do wonders for our mental health

When solving a puzzle, whether it’s something like a shrine in Breath of the Wild or a chamber in Portal, you’re using both sides of your brain. That is crucial in building mental resilience.

The focus required to solve these puzzles has also been shown to induce an almost meditative state in our brains. Do you know what that means? Reduced stress!

One of the biggest benefits from puzzle solving? An almost instant hit of dopamine. You know that feeling of euphoria you get as soon as you solve that complicated puzzle? That’s thanks to the release of dopamine! This is the neurotransmitter that helps boost our mood (and our memory, so a great double whammy!)

Next time you’re feeling a little down in the dumps, try hopping into your favorite puzzle game!


Conclusion

When it’s all said and done, I think the top benefit we’re getting from our favorite video games is a sense of accomplishment.

Even if nothing is going right in our real world, we can save lives, build amazing structures, and do other incredible things in the realm of video games. When someone is feeling down, just a brief sense of accomplishment can give them a boost.

I know there is still a stigma surrounding video games. I doubt that will go away any time soon. But for me, video games have been a lifesaver. Literally.

If we take the time to be mindful about our gaming and make sure we don’t overdo it, it can be such a crucial resource. Video games have become such a beneficial part of my mental health care. I hope they can do the same for you.


Here are a few of my favorite video games and how I work them into my mental health care! I’d love to hear about your favorites, too! Share a comment down below or let me know on Twitter!

Temporary Escape
Ani8mal Crossing
Kingdom Hearts 3

Socialization
Overwatch
Destiny 2

Take Out Frustration
Breath of the Wild
Genshin Impact

Brain Boosters
Portal 2
Breath of the Wild

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