This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW). As such, we take a look at online gaming, and the affect this hobby has on our mental health.
Although immensely popular, gaming is often seen as addictive and isolating.
As with any fun hobby, it has an addictive quality. The outcome of which, is a nation of desperate parents, sat with their heads in their hands, trying to draw their children back out of the Xbox screen (visualize the Poltergeist movie, and you may be close).
Online gaming platform, Solitaired.com shows us the other side of the coin. Their recent discussion with long-term gamer and mental health activist, John Junior, demonstrates the benefits online gaming has on improving mental health.
Online Gaming and Mental Health
Solitaired.com’s conversation with John Junior shows online gaming is hugely instrumental for supporting mental health. Better yet, it is actually saving lives.
Before we delve into why this hobby is a lifeline for so many gamers, we need to consider any online gaming cons.
Excessive gaming can lead to arguments, breakups, communication breakdowns, and upset. Screen time overuse is a common theme in most homes. Worsened by a pandemic-stricken population, it seems that being a recluse is the new black. Many people remain reluctant to go out; consequently, screen time usage continues to soar.
We are told that, to be the right amount of happy, we need to maintain a healthy balance. This applies to all the good things people enjoy in life. Alas, fine foods and wine, late nights, movie binges, social media scrolling, TV, and gaming, all require moderation. Without this, health and weight issues arise, directly impacting our mental well-being. Not fun.
However, when not played to excess, online gaming can offer amazing, life-transformative benefits.
The Life-Saving Benefits of Gaming
As we previously mentioned, the online gaming platform, Solitaired recently teamed up with mental health activist, and BAFTA Nominee, John Junior, to discuss the association between gaming and good mental health. John explains how long-term gaming positively affects his life, and the myriad of ways it improves well-being.
Solitaired and John Junior Discuss Gaming and Mental Health
John opens up about his personal experiences with mental health, and why he believes video gaming actually saved his life. This eye-opening discussion reveals how gaming can provide the ultimate rescue.
Conversation Highlights: Solitaired.com X John Junior, by Solitaired.com
What does MHAW 2022 means for people who are affected by mental health issues?
“The meaning of Mental Health Awareness Week is to give people an open space where they can express how they feel without feeling judged or stigmatised. Unfortunately, this is partly what stops people from not reaching out for help, along with feeling like they don’t want to burden anyone else with their issues.”
“In June 2020 during lockdown, I was in a very dark place, feeling trapped and alone. I was battling the final symptom of depression and the only thing that got me through was playing with my favourite video games. It was a huge copying mechanism for me.”
“I then filmed a series called Hollyoaks Saved My Life, and I was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award. So, I haven’t felt suicidal since. Now, I really do feel like a brand-new person.”
The way video games impact mental health in a positive way.
“Video games help distract you from the real world. It is a healthy copying mechanism, as opposed to others. Sometimes, when the world out there feels a bit too much, jumping on a game immediately distracts you from your anxious thoughts. Also, speaking to online gaming friends is great distraction to avoid engaging with the negative thoughts in your mind.”
The gaming community
“I have made over 1000 online friends in the past 20 years being part of the gaming community. I share with them what I do as a Mental Health Activist in the UK. Also, being online and not in person, can sometimes ease the anxiety making you feel more comfortable talking about such sensitive matters.”
John Junior and Solitaired’s Conversation Highlights, Continued:’
Activities to complement a healthy gaming routine
“I meditate twice a day. This really helps me to an extent I would never think it would. I sit and listen to my body. If there is one thing I have learnt, is that our thoughts are not always worth listening to. The mind is complicated and confuses us at times.”
“I also take supplements daily, omega 3 fatty acids, gut powder (the gut makes 80% of serotonin in our body, substance that boosts our moods), magnesium and vitamin B12 tablets.”
“I have a therapy dog, that has helped me so much and he is incredible!”
The best stress-relief video games
“Monopoly games, board games, card games, but also single player games such as solitaire are all great to combat stress, as they all keep you busy and focused on the game itself rather than your own mind.”
“There is a huge variety of games, that in my opinion can help you get out of a dark place. Multiplayer games for instance allow you to play with teams online, busy games with action packed missions (i.e., Call of Duty) are also great to engage the mind into something different and keep it on high alert.”
“As an ambassador for SOS Silence & Suicide , I often stress about how gaming helped me with my own battle with mental health, along with expressing how much it can also help others who might go through what I went through.”
‘Gaming needs more awareness, because it really does have a powerful positive impact on how we feel, and it makes us feel part of something which can help aid those feelings of loneliness and heal our own minds.’
A spokesperson from Solitaired states:
“It’s amazing to see how gaming can help so many people to overcome fear and anxieties. Hobbies are supposed to be creative or entertaining ways to spend time in a pleasant way, away from the complexities and struggles of our minds.”
“Online gaming, team or single player can really help us finding an alternative focus, something to distract ourselves from our transitionary anxious thoughts.”
“As John says: Mood is temporary, and as hard as it might be at the moment, there is always a brighter time ahead of us.”
www.solitaired.com, is a free, browser-based card game platform. This platform offers 500 + games to play.
Credit Info: Solitaired conversation highlights with John Junior, provided courtesy of http://www.solitaired.com.
Statement by spokesperson for Solitaired, courtesy of Solitaired.com
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