In a world where work demands seem never-ending and well-being often takes a hit, there’s no denying that stress has become a constant companion. A recent study even suggests that global stress levels are on the rise. But here’s the good news – you don’t need to carry that burden alone. Playing games is a simple, enjoyable way to unwind and release all that built-up tension. Whether you’re into puzzles or board games, these activities can boost your overall well-being.
Below are six ways playing games can ease stress.
Helps to redirect your focus
Games offer a way to shift your focus from stress to success. When you dive into a game, you enter a state of flow where your worries take a back seat, and your competitive spirit takes the wheel. Take Tetris, for instance. A 2018 study in the journal Emotion revealed that playing this classic game can be a handy way to cope with the anxiety of awaiting life-altering news. While it won’t eliminate your worries completely, it can dial down the negatives and turn up the positives. The same principle likely applies to other high-focus games.
Potential to mitigate panic attacks
Games have the potential to calm panic attacks. Have you ever tried Chess? It can work wonders similar to Tetris, helping reduce those waves of panic. In a 2017 case study in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry, a researcher turned to a game of chess on their mobile phone at the first signs of a panic attack. To their surprise, it worked like a charm and prevented a full-blown episode.
Unwind after work
It’s common to bring a bit of office stress back home. This is called a“work-home interference.” The good news is that games can be your secret weapon to unwind. A 2014 study in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction found that people who used digital games to tackle this work-home stress bounce back more quickly. So why not let go of some of that work stress by diving into a game of spider solitaire, klondike or freecell?.
Think about those video game levels that seem impossible to conquer or that one friend who always wins at Spades. Playing games is about fun and facing challenges that test your patience, creativity, and problem-solving skills. It’s okay to fail repeatedly without anyone judging you. Some experts even say this teaches you to be persistent in all areas of life as long as you don’t give up. Game designer Jane McGonigal also pointed this out during her 2020 TED Talk. Playing games makes you the best version of yourself, always ready to lend a hand, never backing down from a problem, and bouncing back after a setback.
Improve your communication skills
Few things are as frustrating as trying to communicate when it feels like you’re on a different wavelength. The good news is that games can bridge those communication gaps. Whether you’re embarking on a cooperative mission in Pandemic, venturing through a Dungeons & Dragons quest, or battling it out in Call of Duty, these games teach you to communicate more clearly. Some, like Mafia, even add a twist by limiting your options, allowing you to seek creative ways to convey messages. Learning to adapt in these games makes you a better team player and helps you express your thoughts effectively, both in and out of the game.
Playing games with friends and family is practically a comedy show waiting to happen. It’s well established that laughter is a natural stress reliever. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughing can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure and boost your overall well-being in the long run. Plus, it’s one of the fastest ways to unleash those feel-good endorphins. So, don’t hold back and let the laughter flow at your next family game night, and enjoy the stress-melting benefits.
If you find a game you love, chances are it’s a great stress-buster for you. Games that involve a social, collaborative element can be especially effective for unwinding and releasing tension. However, they can also be time-consuming or addictive, so a little moderation doesn’t hurt. The key is to pay attention to how you feel while and after you play. Use those observations to tailor your gaming experience for maximum stress relief. It’s all about what works best for you. If you need extra motivation to try this activity, you can take inspiration from the benefits discussed above.