“The opposite of play is not work— the opposite of play is depression.”― Brian Sutton-Smith.
People mistakenly believe that work and leisure are the two modes we live in in our career-obsessed world, but this is not the case. Play is something we all require, regardless of what we do for a living, and its absence does not make us unhappy. It's all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and miss out on our need for fun. Play is an effective antidepressant because it provides us with not only a pleasurable flurry of movement but also an eager belief in our own skills. We get that critical taste of optimism when we think we might win.
Games are not as fresh as they appear to be. Games have existed for as long as civilisation has existed. For millennia, card games and dice games have existed. Even ancient people recognized the importance of them for a fulfilling life. We now know that games are really beneficial to our mental health thanks to modern science. According to research, boys who play video games have a lower risk of depression than boys who do not.
However, you don't have to be a die-hard gamer to reap the benefits of games. Even the simplest games, which anybody can play, can have a positive impact on our mood and help us manage our anxiety. Here are three games that are recommended to help you change your mood with a dose of pleasure.
The Senses Game
Rachael Kable, the host of the popular Mindful Kind Podcast, recommends this. Every week, tens of thousands of individuals who are looking for solutions to cope with life's challenges listen to her counsel. The senses game is incredibly simple, and all you have to do when you're feeling overwhelmed is think of these five things in order:
Five things you can see around you, paying special attention to anything unique or out of the ordinary.
You can feel four things, including the fabric of your garments and the softness of your own hair or skin.
You can hear three things. It's possible that you'll have to tune out loud noises in order to hear the more subtle background noises.
We tend to undervalue our sense of smell, so here are two things you may smell.
One thing you can taste is food, either by drinking it or by noting the flavors already present in your mouth.
The game's goal is to keep us from dwelling over the problem in our heads and instead focus on the present moment. The game requires increasing amounts of thought and diverts our attention away from whatever is bothering us. As a result, it is also something that the National Health Service in the United Kingdom recommends.
The fact that something may be played without any tools or equipment has significant power. It means you can use this game as a coping method no matter where you are.
Many millennials may recall wonderful childhood memories of playing solitaire on their laptops. It was frequently done while the teacher was looking the other way. What appears to be a simple children's game is far more powerful than we may imagine. It can be an easy approach to divert our attention away from the difficulties we face.
Elizabeth Planert struggled with anxiety throughout her adolescence and adulthood. She was frequently overloaded, and it was crippling her on a daily basis. She found consolation in the simple game of solitaire during this time of upheaval. The game's nature as an anxiety reliever is ideal because it has clear rules, just one player, and unlimited choices.
Beginners may play frantically and hurriedly at first, but after a few games, it becomes clear that a calmer, more measured approach is more likely to result in success. This subtly encourages the player to be patient and relaxed, which helps to alleviate their anxiety. It teaches delayed gratification, which is a valuable skill not only for mental health but also for making excellent decisions in general. This can help people make more informed judgments and lessen the impact of worry on a vicious cycle.
Unfortunately, it is no longer installed by default on all computers, but you can obtain free versions of the game online. Since everything has moved online, you have a lot more options these days. In addition to classic solitaire, you can play FreeCell Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, and a variety of other well-known versions.
This game was created with human psychology in mind, and it incorporates a scientific approach to optimize mental health benefits. Jane McGonigal, a gamification expert, invented the "Live Gamefully" technique. It's geared at kids aged 12 to 15, and over a million individuals have played it.
The game is divided into seven phases, each of which is designed to make the user feel like the hero of their own story, empowering and boosting their self-esteem. Each stage represents a psychological strength that increases the player's resiliency.
· Challenge yourself → Challenge mindset
· Collect & activate power-ups → Emotional control
· Find & battle the bad guy's → Mental flexibility
· Seek out & complete quests → Sense of purpose
· Recruit your allies → Social connectedness
· Adopt a secret identity → Self-efficacy
· Go for an epic win → Optimism
The game's usefulness has been demonstrated in clinical and randomized controlled trials. It's simple to play on their website and works best as a preventative measure and long-term aid in the fight against depression, chronic pain, and anxiety by focusing on four different types of strength: mental, social, physical, and emotional. You can play the challenge again once you've completed it to get a new experience.
We could all use a little more play in our lives, and we shouldn't feel bad about it. Life is about having a good time, and having a good time is the antidote to depression and a variety of other mental illnesses. This is only a starting point; any game that makes you feel good and helps you deal with bad emotions is worth playing.
The science supports the use of games for mental health, but don't forget to seek professional help if things get too hard to bear.