couple playing online games
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

How Online Games Can Help Founders Destress

Lately, it’s been hard to find news without finding reports on how people are spending too much time in front of screens, whether they’re playing video games or watching TV.

While there’s plenty of evidence that too much screen time can be harmful, there are also studies that show that video games can in fact help with stress and other health issues if you aren’t spending so much time in front of them. Read more to find out how.

Before we start, we first must understand how video games affect our minds in order to understand how they affect our stress levels.

  • Video games are fun, engaging, and enjoyable, which lowers your stress levels.
  • Video games cause the release of dopamine, which makes you feel great.
  • Video games give the player a task, offer the chance for that task to be accomplished, and provide feelings of accomplishment as a result.
  • The process of playing a video game has many parallels with the act of meditating.
  • Video games offer immediate rewards to make meeting long-term goals easier.
  • Gaming can provide opportunities for creativity and art and also help one decompress.
  • Meaningful social connections can come out of video games and we can wind down after a long day with that.

Let’s dive further to find how video games achieve stress relief

Engagement And Enjoyment They Provide

Take a moment to remember the last time you enjoyed doing something. It might have been watching an entertaining television show, engaging in a meaningful conversation, or playing a video game. Is there anything else on your mind besides what you’re doing right now?

In all likelihood, no. Your mind was totally focused on the task at hand. The best way to reduce stress is to engage in enjoyable activities (other than gaming). Try it next time and observe how it affects your stress levels. The difference will be noticeable.

Release of Dopamine

Playing video games induces pleasure in our brains. When we enjoy playing a game, our brain releases dopamine into the nucleus accumbens, a pleasure center located in the brain. As a result of this dopamine release, we feel euphoric and relieved. We can cope with the stresses of daily life through gaming.

The games release endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are hormones that act as analgesics, or painkillers. Just like morphine, they reduce our perception of pain and induce a sense of well-being. This effect is better than that of morphine because endorphins are naturally produced by our body instead of having to be artificially introduced.

The Triumph Circuit

Dopamine isn’t the only psychological factor that helps video games relieve stress. The Triumph circuit, which rewards engagement, is another. We are wired to feel good when we overcome challenges.

Video games have exploited this circuit. Having a challenge to overcome and the tools to solve it helps us overcome stress. When we succeed, we feel satisfied and competent, which are positive emotions.

Monkey Mind

When people are playing video games, they feel immersed and engaged, and this is not only because of the triumph circuit. The triumph circuit makes us feel good when we overcome challenges.

There is another level of engagement and focus called a flow state when you become so engrossed in the game that all else seems distant. It occurs when your mind is so focused on the activity you are performing that it stops thinking about anything else. It is a state of one-pointedness.

Buddhists call this quality “monkey mind” because it contrasts so starkly with our mind’s normal state of flitting from one thought to another. It is very similar to the state of meditation in which our mind becomes “silent.” We no longer generate thoughts and instead focus on one stimulus, such as a physical sensation, movement, visual representation, or sound. Flow states are hypothesized to work similarly to meditation in relieving stress.

Playing video games gives our brain a break from multitasking, as there’s no need to think about anything other than playing the game. By focusing on one activity for an extended period of time, our brain is able to rest from processing all the inputs it would normally process in other situations

Instant Gratification

This means that in a video game if a player puts in just a little time, they are rewarded for it. The rewards often happen instantly. The trade-off is quick. The situation can seem extremely desirable as opposed to the world outside of video games, where you usually have to put in more time before receiving rewards. the deliberate choice to not seek satisfaction. You work for years at a job, and receive a salary at the end of it. CEOs put in hours to grow a company, and students put in hours to graduate from college. There is long-term gain and motivation.

Used as part of an overall plan for long-term success, video games can offer rewards, brief pauses, and rewarding feelings to those living demanding lives. When going through setbacks in life, they help us manage by giving us smaller, more manageable tasks which create feelings of accomplishment.

There are also moments of gratification to be found outside of the games themselves, particularly for titles that boast ecosystems and economies for digital assets. From buying and opening CS:GO cases to trading resources in EVE Online, the multitude of microtransactions and the mental boosts they provide are valuable to anyone looking to destress.

Video Games Can Promote Creativity

In the human brain, there are two hemispheres, the left brain and the right brain. They differ in these ways:

The left brain is analytical, logical, numerical, fact-oriented, structured, and logical.

Alternatively, the right brain is creative, intuitive, free-thinking, and thinks visually rather than verbally.

In most cases, our work involves left-brain activities, such as crunching numbers, selling, reading documents, and manipulating data. Being productive is a major focus of most of our lives.

In the majority of cases, we neglect our right brain, so we rarely take the time (or have the time) to engage in creative activities like art, sculpture, etc. It is a very good indicator of an overactive left brain if your mind starts thinking of the “right” way to do something when you are doing creative activities, like drawing. To exercise your right brain means creating art without worrying about its correctness – the left brain is more free-flowing than that.

According to the study, the stress-related hormone cortisol significantly drops in just 45 minutes of creativity. This proves that art-making significantly impacts stress levels. Even so, some people just don’t have the time, know-how, or skills to produce art.

So for these people, video games come in handy as they allow them to get their creative juices going. SimCity, for example, allows you to create your own city, which can include houses and schools and a working traffic system. Similarly, classic games like puzzles or solitaire can challenge you to think of creative solutions to solve those games.

Gaming is the opportunity to simply enjoy one’s self without the concern of whether you are winning or losing. Gaming, like art and other creative activities, can be quite therapeutic.

Making Social Connection Through Video Games

Games are a great way to form meaningful social connections and cultivate relationships, in addition to providing challenge, fun, and creativity. Playing games with your friends is not a concept that began with video games.

Children have played games with one another throughout history. Playing video games with someone doesn’t require you to be physically present. The internet connects you to people who share your interests.

Video games can be an excellent means of maintaining relationships when social gatherings are not possible (like a recent pandemic for example). Gaming with friends is a great way to de-stress, whether competitively or casually. They can connect you with a supportive and therapeutic community.

Violent Games And Their Effect On Stress

We would think that fast-paced, stressful games must cause a lot of stress, but when we actually give it some thought, that isn’t the case. Based on one’s personality type, they are going to choose the types of games they want to play.

Some people, due to their busy lifestyles, have more difficulty concentrating on a task so fast-paced games are more appealing. To enter the flow state, they use their brain by playing the game to an extreme degree, eliminating other thoughts.

Research has found that adrenaline levels go up for a short time during video game sessions and return to a baseline about five minutes after players stop playing. Additionally, the study’s subjects report higher levels of positivity than the subjects of the puzzle game, Tetris.

The study contradicts the other research that shows that puzzle games are believed to cause positive emotions such as relaxation, while shooting/fighting games provoke negative emotions like anger, hostility, or fear. The study shows that concepts from the theory of self-determination can explain the study. This may indicate that gamers are motivated to play video games that satisfy their needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Competence refers to their need for challenges and a sense of success while performing a task while feeling low competence correlates with negative emotions such as frustration following gameplay.

As well as some meritorious qualities, it is debatable whether violent first-person video games such as Counter-Strike and Valorant relieve stress or contribute to the problem. However, these games can create a stressful environment, which some players may enjoy.

However, this study showed that other players feel more negative than positive emotions when they are playing competitive video games. Things such as frustration and shame start to arise. Not everybody likes performing under pressure and sometimes the desire to compete and win can lead to failure to enjoy the process.

Suppressing Problems

The challenge of playing video games places us in an unfamiliar environment, provides us with an objective, and provides us with the information and tools to solve that objective. As a result, gamers develop efficient problem-solving skills in an environment that provides a clear objective. Since gamers often turn on a game and become immersed in it to deal with stress, the negative emotions that cause them stress have nowhere to escape.

Therefore, they remain suppressed. Most gamers suffer from alexithymia, which is characterized by an inability to determine their inner emotional state. We use games to cope with stress, but the effectiveness of their methods is debated. As long as a person learns how to confront and process their emotions, the harmful effects of gaming, such as emotional suppression, are less likely to occur.

Risk Of Addiction

Certain studies show that playing video games in response to anxiety may be detrimental in the long term. This is not a new conclusion- this coping mechanism has the potential to become an addiction.

People that are not getting therapy or addressing mental illness in any other way, they may choose to form an addiction to gaming. If you’re using gaming as a way to cope with anxiety and depression, then it will not only fail to do anything to address your problems, but it may only make things worse. Even more importantly, video games stop being fun at some point during the addictive process, even if they can no longer be used to decrease stress. Yet still, it is difficult for gamers to stop playing them.

In the end, every gamer is different and we each enjoy games in our own unique ways. For example, perhaps you enjoy an arcade-style video game like Apex Legends, or you prefer a slower, less stressful one like Hearts. You might like playing a few rounds of a multiplayer battle game like Dota 2 or League of Legends after a busy day to take a break. The core idea is that you should play and enjoy what you’re playing, and to be aware of the reasons why you play them.

Join Our Small Business Community

Get the latest news, resources and tips to help you and your small business succeed.