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Top 5 Mental Health Benefits of Video Games

By Chris Brown

For many of us during these recent years of COVID restrictions and stay-at-home lockdowns, video games played an important role in maintaining our social interactions and keeping us sane. The positives of video games are not just limited to worldwide pandemic lockdowns, it can also enormously help with mental health during normal times. There are five main mental health benefits of video games that keep gamers mentally strong and socially engaged without ever having to leave the house.

Trauma recovery - Whether it is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a depressive episode, engaging video games offer important distractions while processing trauma. An experiment included in a report by the Science Foundation Ireland Research Center for Software found that playing a video game four times weekly, for periods of at least a half-hour, gave people better outcomes for anxiety and mental health than even medication. Additionally, video games are so absorbing that they can distract from the physical pain.

Develop a social network - While playing games alone at home may seem anti-social, gaming can be a highly social experience. Most video games allow either peer-to-peer voice or chatting options. From personal experience, video games were my main means of staying in touch with friends during the COVID lockdowns. Video games' ability to build valuable, interpersonal relationships through low-pressure, digital environments is especially important for those with social anxiety problems.

Improved mood - All video games, even violent first-person shooter games, have been shown to improve mood in gamers. The distraction it provides from one's daily worries gives a happy respite in an otherwise self-obsessed world. So go ahead and digitally slaughter your way to bliss.

Strengthens your problem-solving and emotional regulation - Video games often offer challenging problems and levels that force your mind to think creatively. The continued obstacles get your mind in a problem-solving mindset which translates to your real life, studies show. The same difficulty that builds a gamer's problem-solving ability concurrently develops their emotional resilience to failure and helps them emotionally regulate in the real world. A study of adolescent gamers discovered that those who played Mario Kart had more advanced emotional regulation skills than those who didn't game. It turns out those frustrating hours continually dying in Zelda weren't wasted after all.

There is a point of diminishing return when it comes to video games and mental health. The other side of video games' engaging nature is their potential to be highly addictive. Like most things, monitoring your video game use is crucial to maintaining the balance between life improvement and detriment.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Hurst, Tex.

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