How Video Games Have Benefitted My Mental Health
Mr_Chainsaww | U.S. Air Force Veteran
In an era marked by increasing awareness of mental health issues, various unconventional methods of therapy have emerged as potential remedies. One such unconventional but increasingly recognized avenue is the world of video games. Contrary to the common misconception that video games are solely a source of entertainment or even a detriment to mental health, my personal experience demonstrates that they can be a valuable tool for improving mental well-being. I will provide some examples of how video games have positively impacted my mental health by providing an escape, fostering social connections, and promoting my emotional resilience.
Escape from Reality
In times of stress, anxiety, or depression, video games have offered me a much-needed escape from the real world. They have provided me a haven where I can temporarily detach from my worries and immerse myself in alternate realities. This escape has allowed me to momentarily forget my troubles, offering a reprieve from the relentless cycle of negative thoughts. This temporary respite has proven invaluable during challenging periods, enabling me to recharge and regain perspective on my problems.
Fostering Social Connections
Contrary to the stereotype of gamers as solitary individuals, many video games encourage social interaction and collaboration. Multiplayer games, online communities, and voice chat functions have enabled me to connect with friends and make new ones, transcending geographical boundaries. As a military member, this has been a crucial social link, keeping me in touch with friends and family despite moving every few years. While deployed, doing couch co-op with friends helped boost our morale. For me, games like Halo, Gears of War, and Call of Duty have provided countless memories with friends.
Further, being involved in online gaming communities on platforms such as Discord, where I can meet like-minded gamers in communities such as Stack Up, I have access to support around the clock. These connections have provided a sense of belonging and support, crucial for maintaining mental well-being. Sharing experiences in virtual worlds has strengthened my real-world relationships and helped combat feelings of isolation.
Promoting Emotional Resilience
The challenging nature of many video games has promoted my emotional resilience. Frequent failures and setbacks are part of the gaming experience, teaching players to cope with frustration, adapt to changing circumstances, and persevere in the face of adversity. Overcoming setbacks in games like Elden Ring or Mario + Rabbids has brought me a lot of joy and made me look at problems differently. These skills are transferable to real-life challenges, helping me manage stress and setbacks better. I have learned the importance of persistence and patience through video games, which has positively impacted my ability to handle difficult situations outside of gaming.
Video games have emerged as a surprising yet effective tool for improving my mental health. They have offered a therapeutic escape from reality, fostered social connections, enhanced my cognitive skills, and promoted emotional resilience. My journey with video games, I believe, showcases that they can be a source of comfort and growth in the realm of mental well-being. However, it's worth stating it is essential to strike a balance and use video games in moderation, ensuring they complement other aspects of a healthy lifestyle. When approached with mindfulness, video games can serve as more than just entertainment. They can be a powerful force for improving your mental health and overall well-being.