Stress is a Killer You Can Defeat With Video Games
Stress is a problem we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives, and unfortunately, it’s something we experience far more frequently than we should. Gone are the days when the sensations it causes in our bodies would be useful, either to keep us going from one watering hole to another or by providing us with the adrenaline we need to fight a voracious predator. It’s become a vestigial problem, something that gives us few or no benefits, so it’s little wonder we’re keen to find ways to minimize its impact.
Google something like ‘solutions to stress’ and you’ll be hit with many options, from hobbies like yoga and painting to simpler ideas like breathing exercises or even going for a walk in the park. These ideas are all useful and can serve as a beneficial counterbalance to whatever you have on your plate, but wouldn’t you also like to combat stress with something that you’re already familiar with?
You don’t have to learn a new skill or make a major lifestyle change. If you’re interested in video gaming, there’s good news: you can use this to reduce stress too.
Video gaming is an excellent way to reduce your anxiety levels by moving to an activity with which you are already familiar and this isn’t just the anecdotal evidence of gamers who swear by their hobby, it’s backed up by medical science as well. Video games are proven to be effective at reducing stress, boosting feelings of contentment, calming your mind, and increasing a sense of community.
In this article, we’re going to go over why video games can be good for your health, how they reduce levels of anxiety, what benefits you can enjoy as a result, and what types of games are particularly good for stress reduction. We’ll start with an overview of it and the effects it has on the body.
Stress Isn’t Anything to Joke About
Stress is a pervasive and often underestimated condition that can have severe medical implications on the human body, and it is widely acknowledged that chronic anxiety can lead to a range of detrimental effects on physical and mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, prolonged exposure to stress triggers the release of hormones like cortisol, which, in excess, can disrupt various bodily functions and systems. Elevated cortisol levels have been associated with a heightened risk of numerous health problems, including but not limited to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and a weakened immune response.
In a study conducted by the American Institute of Stress, it was reported that 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress and 73% experience psychological symptoms. The same study revealed that 33% of individuals feel they are living with extreme anxiety, while 48% feel their stress levels have increased over the past five years.
Furthermore, chronic anxiety has been shown to significantly impact cardiovascular health and a meta-analysis published in the European Heart Journal demonstrated a clear association between major stress and a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Its extensive impact on health reaches beyond the physical too, as mental health is proven to deteriorate under prolonged stress, often manifesting itself as anxiety, depression, or chronic insomnia. The World Health Organization reported that anxiety and depression cost the global economy over $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
These statistics underscore the urgent need to address stress as a public health concern, it’s something that we should all be concerned about, whether or not we experience it frequently. Things like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, learning new hobbies, etc., all play a role in helping to reduce its impact , and so do video games. In fact, there’s a lot of evidence to support their efficacy.
Get Gaming to Reduce Stress
Video games are a viable and effective means to combat anxiety and alleviate its negative impact. Contrary to the misconception that video gaming is a purely recreational activity, research suggests that it offers significant therapeutic benefits as well.
Ultimately, the benefits of video gaming in the fight against stress levels can come down to three distinct areas. These are therapeutic effects as well as a sense of being involved in a community of like-minded people, and last but not least – possibility to escape for a while from your everyday routine.
Engaging in video games triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators, leading to an immediate boost in spirits and a reduction in stress levels. Gaming provides an immersive and interactive experience, diverting the mind from anxiety and promoting mental rejuvenation. They can also promote mindfulness thanks to a focus on positive emotions.
Participating in repeated action that’s pleasurable but also not challenging for an individual can be considered to be therapeutic action, and there are a number of ways you can achieve this. Some people report basic organizational tasks as providing a soothing experience; others insist that ironing helps to calm them down, or even going for a walk around the park. Video games can provide a similar experience too, depending on the type and/or genre of the game in question.
Finally, the social aspect of video gaming contributes to stress reduction as well, and online multiplayer games allow individuals to connect with friends and make new social connections, fostering a sense of community and belonging. Games can also share their experiences on social media with their pre-existing social networks, creating a collaborative experience.
This social interaction can mitigate feelings of isolation and loneliness, common stressors in today’s society. This aspect is particularly helpful to neurodivergent individuals, and socially awkward or isolated people.
Reasons to Game Away Stress No.31 – Escapism
Escapism is defined as ‘the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy,’ which on the surface doesn’t sound like a positive attribute, but it most certainly is. While overindulging in escapism would have a negative effect on your professional and personal lives, being able to escape from your daily routine and the monotony of work is an important ability in a world dominated by pervasive technology and media. Some people choose to do so via writing or reading books, perhaps going into nature and seeking solace in green spaces, whereas others prefer to enter a world of fantasy provided by video games.
A number of studies carried out by behavioral researchers have found that escapism via video games can boost an individual’s conceptualization of the meaning of life, providing a contextual balance. Escapist games also help to reduce stress levels as they can completely absorb the gamer’s attention, reducing their awareness of the outside world to a minimum. It becomes easy to switch from your work troubles or relationship issues when you’re completely focused on existing in a fantasy land or performing a quest with your character.
There are several types of video game genres that are particularly conducive to providing a high-quality escapist experience, particularly fantasy, RPGs, and world creation. Ultimately, any game can be escapist, given your particular interest, but we wanted to highlight a few notable examples:
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt A favorite of ours, this fantasy game has you play the famous Witcher Geralt of Riva to combat monsters and the forces of evil. It has an absolutely vast in-game world; at least 170 hours are required to achieve full completion, perfect for an escape from reality.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition A combination of all three main games in the series, Mass Effect sees you take command of a team of human and alien special forces to combat a terrifying threat from outside the galaxy. With dozens of cultures and hundreds of worlds to explore, you’ll be absorbed for days at a time.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons This game is perfect for those looking for a low-impact experience compared with RPGs or shooting games with a high degree of escapism too. You start with a small island and build up your land to become productive and fruitful, creating a village and changing the landscape as you see fit.
Reasons to Game Away Stress No. 1 – Therapeutic Effects
Repeated therapeutic action is an effective mechanism for alleviating anxiety as it provides a structured avenue for relaxation and mental rejuvenation. The act of physically repeating a process or pattern can create a state of mind almost akin to being in a trance, where the outside world and its associated tensions cease to have a negative impact.
Video games can excel at delivering this sensation. The interactive nature of these games allows individuals to engage in repetitive yet enjoyable activities, offering a sense of control and achievement. The end result isn’t so much achieving a goal or hitting a target; rather, it’s the process itself that provides the primary method with which to reduce stress.
For sure, tasks within a game often involve incremental progress, which is naturally going to improve the player’s mental well-being via the release of dopamine. However, it is the continuous cycle of setting objectives, working towards them, and achieving success that creates the most rewarding mental experience in this case, creating the trance-like state we mentioned earlier where the player cannot help but forget about the factors in their life that are causing them anxiety.
The best types of games you can use for therapeutic actions are those that are psychologically low-impact. It’s best to forget about anything from the horror genre, first-person shooters, etc. You can find something you can play almost on Autopilot; here are some good examples:
Stardew Valley Stardew Valley has become very popular and it is similar to Animal Cross, given its focus on agricultural development. It’s simple to play, visually engaging, and rather wholesome in character; all you need to do is build up your farm and enjoy the property you create.
Minecraft If you’re a member of Gen Z, then there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of Minecraft; it’s the best-selling video game in history. There’s no doubt about why; it’s a massive sandbox where you can do pretty much whatever you want, from mining for resources to building a full-scale replica of Middle Earth.
Microsoft Flight Simulator Ever fancied winding down after a long day at work by jetting off to an exotic location? You don’t have to leave your house with Microsoft Flight Simulator; simply log on, set your destination’s coordinates, and take off to experience a relaxing flight from the comfort of your living room.
Reasons to Game Away Stress No. 2 – Community Creation
Multiplayer video games are ideal for lowering anxiety, starting with the increased opportunities they afford for communication with like-minded individuals all around the world. Certainly, there are some people out there who play multiplayer video games who will go out of their way to make the experience difficult for their comrades, whether via poor gameplay and sportsmanship or by a hostile attitude and abusive language. It’s important to mention that these individuals constitute a very small minority of the video gaming community.
Being able to communicate with people you have shared interests with is an excellent way to make new friends, something that is proven to help reduce stress levels. This can then lead to creating new communities based on the friends you make while playing your favorite video game.
It’s easy to create forums, social media pages, group chats, etc., based on the games you love. This will increase your sense of belonging to a community, which is also shown to have a beneficial effect on anxiety levels.
Embracing the potential of multiplayer video games in stress management can also be a prudent approach for businesses seeking to prioritize employee well-being by creating a more relaxed environment. You could, for example, set up an office massively multiplayer online (MMO) team or tournament, using some of the following games as examples:
World of Warcraft The original, the classic, this MMO has changed the world of gaming consistently since its original launch. The great thing about this game is the great variety of experiences you can enjoy as a team, from completing quests together to simply enjoying the vast world that’s on offer.
League of Legends This game is ideal for individuals looking for a more competitive environment in which to play, which makes it particularly suited for team-building exercises as well. Set up your own group and battle with your colleagues or competitors from other companies; you might even consider joining a tournament.
Lord of the Rings Online Many of us have read the eponymous book and watched the films, so why not escape to Middle Earth when you need a break from the tensions of modern life? This game is more relaxed in its pace than other MMOs out there, so even when you’re engaged in combat, you’ll find that your gaming experience is considerably more relaxing.
The Best of All Three in One Game
Using one of these three different types of games will certainly help to lower your levels of anxiety, but what if you could combine the best attributes of all of them into one gaming experience? This type of gaming would have to be engaging enough to keep you plugged in without distraction, provide a routine activity that’s relaxing enough to make it enjoyable, and also offer a sense of community through shared experiences with gamers and your friends. Thanks to the rise in popularity of connected television (CTV), there is such a genre, namely social gaming.
These games emulate what could be described as conventional casino games like blackjack and slot machines, and the biggest difference is that there’s no obligatory financial commitment; gameplay takes place with allotted virtual credits. As such, social games create a space where individuals can experience the thrill of gambling without the financial risks, which ensures that they provide a safe and relatively wholesome environment. They’re perfect for creating a long-lasting gaming experience for hours at a time, or for dipping into when you’re on your way to work, waiting for an appointment, or whenever else you need a quick break.
For this reason, social games are able to provide a truly engaging experience to the gamer as they can be played according to the player’s schedule, and there’s no limit that might exist if real money was involved. The gameplay is simple and rhythmic in nature, allowing the individual user to play on autopilot if they like, giving a therapeutic experience. Finally, they’re excellent for creating a sense of community, as it’s easy to invite your friends to play and to post your gaming successes (and failures) on social media.
Social Gaming Stress-Reducing Effect
Social games are known to be the ones most popular among the others and there’s a reason for that – they really can help you to get rid of stress with no harm to you or others. For instance, Crazino – the game that’s captured the attention of the playing public thanks to its ability to provide an engaging, therapeutic experience, can be shared with your existing social network.
The app, which can be downloaded via the Google Play Store and through most major CTV platforms, comes with a number of casino-themed games included but only one of them, Vegas Heat, can be played immediately after downloading. The idea is to provide an achievable challenge to players that motivates them to unlock more parts of the game in their own time.
We say achievable because the whole point of games like Crazino is to provide a challenge that is engaging enough to keep the player’s interest but is also low-impact enough to ensure that the gaming experience isn’t remotely stressful. The process of playing slots is by its nature perfect for providing the sort of therapeutic action that can create the ‘autopilot mode’ required for ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience for the gamer. All you need to do is repeat your actions until you find a winning combination, then continue on as you rise up through the game’s levels. It’s simple.
Social games in general and Crazino in particular are designed for games in the 40s plus category, people who want a low-impact, high-premium gaming experience that’s engaging enough to distract from their various problems. This cohort is also more likely to be socially isolated than younger players, which is why Crazino and other games like it are so good at fostering community creation amongst their users. Users simply need to share their experiences with the games—how they win, what levels their layering is at, etc.—and share their stories with their friends and acquaintances on social media, building up a community in the process.
Say Goodbye to Stress – Get Video Gaming!
Stress is remarkably toxic to the human body; we’re simply not meant to carry a lot of it for prolonged periods of time, so whatever you can do to mitigate or cancel its effects is something worth investing in. Video games like Crazino are great at this as they help foster a sense of community spirit but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing you should be doing either. By all means, play video games, but go outside too, do some yoga, maybe take up painting, etc.
Enjoying a balanced life with video gaming downtime combined with walks in nature and a healthy diet is the target we should all be aiming for. While for some people finding a true balance may not be possible, there are always things you can do to enrich your life, whether that’s via online gaming or something else. The important thing is to enjoy what you’re doing to the fullest, get as engaged as humanly possible, and share whatever you’re experiencing with your friends. There’s nothing wrong with a guilty pleasure in small doses, after all, so relax and take some time off with your favorite games. As part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, the dopamine hit provided by games like Crazino will go a long way toward combating your anxiety levels. Have fun and happy gaming. Here’s to no more stress!