Gaming could refer to the games that you play on your PC, the ones you play using one console or another, or games that you play on a mobile device such as mobile roulette or Subway Surf. However you choose to game, gamers all agree that it’s the best hobby around. Serious gamers spent thousands on specialty monitors, extra controllers, chargers, gaming chairs that come with built-in speakers and vibration effects, and new graphics cards to beef up their PCs, not to mention the games themselves. Though it might surprise you, health and wellness trends sometimes align with other trends or habits; in this case, they align well with some aspects of gaming.
Believe it or not, gaming is, for some people, a great way to practice mindfulness techniques and relieve stress. While outsiders might view gaming as a lot of stressful, high-pressure situations, gamers see a very different picture. Not only is gaming a way to have some fun, let off a little steam, and spend time with your friends, but it’s also a way for you to keep other aspects of your life all in balance and as stress-free as possible.
A Break from Daily Stress and Goals
Unlike many things in life, gaming provides instant gratification. Well, far more instant than the goal of buying your own house, at least! While working towards your long-term goals every day is essential to help you reach them, it’s healthy to take a break from thinking too far ahead and treat yourself to a bit of fun without any other goals on your mind, except winning the game. When things are challenging in our lives or not going the way that we hoped they would, breaking that routine and doing something that we enjoy just because we enjoy it is a great way to fill our cups a little while we’re on the journey to reaching our goals.
A Dopamine Hit
If you’re a gamer at heart, then playing the games that you love will give you a hit of dopamine: the happy hormone. Doing anything that we find pleasurable will automatically trigger our brains to release that sometimes elusive chemical, dopamine. When circumstances are less than ideal, indulging in some gaming can lift our mood and lessen the stresses that creep up on us unannounced. This little break from reality helps us recharge before returning to the real world.
Many studies have shown that the different kinds of meditation help improve satisfaction in relationships, cognitive and mental flexibility, focus, and of course, reduce stress. Meditation aims to help those who practice it, to remain focused on the present moment: the sounds, feelings, and smells in the here and now, rather than constantly being focussed on the future and what it might or might not hold. When gamers play their games, they enter into a sort of “autopilot” state, a sort of meditative state where they are entirely aware of the present moment. This mindful state is often referred to as being “in the zone,” where gamers don’t hear anything that’s going on outside of the game. Time flies by at a rate that feels much faster than normal. Gamers are completely immersed in the game world. This “flow,” as it’s called by psychologists, is achieved because games often include many small tasks that lead to a larger one. Games, like meditation, help gamers recover from the drain of daily stresses.
One of our most basic needs as human beings is to express ourselves creatively. In a world where life can be hectic, it’s sometimes something of a challenge to find ways to express that creativity, but gamers express it when they play. There are certain games, of course, that lean more towards creative expression than others do. In open-ended games that don’t have one specific “goal,” such as Fortnite Creative or Minecraft, gamers can change the world around them into whatever they like within the parameters of the game.
Socializing With Like-minded People
Another of our basic needs as human beings is socializing. Humans are social animals who require time around other humans who like the same things as they do to feel fulfilled. Whether that interaction is in person or over the internet, that’s up to you! Games that ask players to work in teams are particularly good in terms of the social interaction that players have access to. You work and strategize together, and you chat in the game or on an outside chat app like Dischord.
Gaming can help you balance your life in ways that you could never have expected. If you’re looking for a little something to do as a hobby and a way to find a little bit more balance, maybe gaming is the right choice for you!