Among the many health benefits of gaming, stress relief has surfaced as a benefit in undertaken exploring the relationship between gameplay and stress levels. The research suggests that video and mobile games can offer a safe sandbox for people to develop their coping skills and enhance their levels of emotional awareness, allowing them to improve how they handle stressful situations in real-world applications.

Adapting to overcome stress

Research from Netherland’s Behavioural Science Institute uncovered that gamers feeling stressed while playing were developing useful coping methods to handle the negative emotions they were experiencing. Two key strategies that proved the most effective in coping with stress levels and negative emotions became apparent during the course of the tests. The first approach involved solving problems using personally developed coping skills, while the second found resolutions through sounding out other players and accepting social support.

The main difference between the gamers who were able to cope with their stress and those who could not was down to awareness levels. Those who were alert to their stress could take steps to balance their internal state, leading to better decision-making or seeking out assistance from their peers when required. Many games are even designed to guide players to take this approach, by offering rewards for well-managed emotions, measured problem solving and working co-operatively.

These studies show that not only can games reduce player stress levels, but they can also increase their reaction speeds as well. This can allow gamers to think more swiftly when they need to, giving them more time to cope with situations they find difficult and reducing pressure levels.

Remain game aware

Finally, while games that are intriguing and fun can seem impossible to put down, in order to reap their health benefits, moderation is always advised. If you enjoy playing, this can be a stress reliever in itself, while games that involve a component that is social, especially when you must work co-operatively, can be exceptionally beneficial as a stress-relief tool.

Always be mindful of how you feel both while you’re playing games and afterwards, and adjust your play accordingly, setting your own personal limits when necessary.

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Reference for all studies mentioned can be found here.

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