November 8, 2022

An Unlikely Tool to Promote Mindfulness & Relaxation.

What makes us obsessively in love with video games?

Can they improve our mental health?

In the past decades, video games have been one of the best forms of entertainment among the younger demographic.

You may remember it was mostly kids in your community holding tight to their favorite game console, looking down at the screen, focused during battles to win. However, 30 years ago, things were different.

Today, we have evidence through studies and surveys that not only kids are playing but many in older age groups are also playing. An article published in USA Today has stated that more adults in their 50s and over are playing virtual games.

Furthermore, a 2022 survey concluded that 36 percent of gamers are from 18 to 34, while six percent are 65 and older. And while we’re having a blast jumping online and playing with our friends, we cannot ignore the mental health benefits of it. Online gaming can provide fun and interactivity, especially for those who sometimes feel down or lonely.

Therapists are utilizing gaming during therapy sessions.

Experts say video games may benefit your mental health by reducing anxiety and stress. In recent years, psychologists have been using video games during sessions to make their patients relax and feel at ease. A therapist has stated: “In my experience, students who are casually asked about school while dueling on a screen are more likely to answer frankly than students who are asked while sitting awkwardly across from their therapist.”

Once you step into a video game world, you will never be alone.

Now, everyone in our modern high-tech society has access to a computer. Unlike the Nirvana days 30-some years ago, gaming in public is socially acceptable for anyone at any age, especially if you’re sitting solo in a coffee shop. And if you are introverted, Nintendo has your back. When you’re online playing, you can talk to others only if you agree to be part of someone’s group chat.

Thanks to our technological development and advancement, we can have access from anywhere to express our skills and creativity while playing a virtual game from a computer at home, on a smartphone, or on a game console. Also, while gaming online with other players, you can learn new techniques to improve your gaming skills.

Developers have created games made specifically for each of us, according to our needs and personality type. For instance, during the gloomy days of 2020, Nintendo released “Animal Crossing The New Horizons.” This game intentionally slows your mind from unwanted raising thoughts. So many people, even grandparents, started playing this calming game while adapting to self-isolation; I was one of those players.

Here are my three favorite calming video games.

I have written about video games before, but I will never get tired of talking or writing about fun games. “Animal Crossing, The New Horizons” is one of my favorite games that promotes mindfulness and relaxation.

Here is what happens when you set your feet on the most popular Peninsula in “Animal Crossing.” When you arrive on the island, you will have the chance to meet the adorable villagers, the cutest anthropomorphic animals. As you explore the beautiful island, you will notice some of the island’s villagers will remind you how to be in the moment when they are relaxing while chatting with their neighbors or reading under the sun by a tropical tree.

Then, the lovely Isabel from the visitor center and Tom Nook, the adorable raccoon dressed in the cutest sweater, will assist you with instructions on materials on how to plant and where to sell fruits and tree branches needed to build your house. Then you will pick your favorite campsite location. After your home is complete, Tom Nook will need your assistance in building new homes for new villagers moving to the island.

During the pandemic, this peaceful game helped many senior citizens to feel happy by giving them a sense of purpose during the lockdown. Playing online with other players, the elderly felt engaged and connected with different people with the same interest in gaming.

Always choose a game that is right for your current state of mind; for example, if you had a stressful day and you’re having racing thoughts going through your mind, a game like “Animal Crossing” will be sufficient to slow down your mind.

On the other hand, if you’re feeling like partying with your gamer friends and going on a virtual crazy ride, you can always jump on “Mario Kart 8”. So, get ready and buckle up your seat belt because we’re going for a fast ride.

In “Mario Kart 8,” you will simultaneously drive and drift at high speeds, especially if you play the Rainbow Road track. You will learn to stay on track and take shortcuts that will save you time—it may not be easy, but with practice, it will get easier. Most importantly, try not to hit any walls as you’re trying to get away from other drivers who will spin you off the road or throw you purple, green, and red shells if they have a chance to catch you. So, drive as fast as possible to win the race.

Now, as you know, we are about to transition into the winter months, and some of you may enjoy playing a calming farming game. While playing “Stardew Valley,” you can go through your favorite sunny seasons, even while it is cold and rainy outside your window.

In the end, scheduling fun times are essential for keeping your mental health in check. With our crazy demands, you should never feel guilty about scheduling a leisure activity. It will give you an excellent opportunity to reboot after a long week.

An article in Psychology Today reminds us that playtime may help us to work more effectively: “But play isn’t just a way to let off steam and reduce stress. On the contrary, fitting playtime into your day is essential for working productively.”

In the end, remember to always to let your inner child out to play in the activity or game you are planning.

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