Gaming: There is a lot of debate about if playing video games reduces stress or causes it. Non-gamers tend to think that playing violent video games will make gamers more aggressive. Meanwhile, gamers swear that playing games reduce their stress levels. But according to studies from Canada, this topic is not black and white.
We are discussing the link between games and stress levels with Canadian blogger Michelle Thomas. Michelle has been involved in the iGaming industry for several years and you can read more about her here.
Can gaming help with stress?
After a long and stressful day at work, some people in Canada will hit the gym, some will relax with a glass of wine and others will play video games. While nobody debates the usefulness of going to the gym if done with moderation the latter two behaviors can relieve stress as well. In Canada, 20 million people engage in some form of video gaming and 6 in 10 people take part in gambling activities.
Some people will engage in gambling to destress. At online casinos that accept Canadian players, like Lucky Nugget Casino, you can play for a long time while wagering little money. Quick games – like video poker that require some skill and offers a good return to player – can reduce stress levels.
Video games relieve stress by:
- Engagement: While people play video games, they engage in something they like to do. When you like doing something, you will focus on that and forget about what stressed you out previously.
- Dopamine release: Our brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter. This happens when we do something enjoyable. Food, sex, and drugs can also release dopamine in the brain.
- The feeling of triumph: When we overcome challenges (even small ones in puzzle games) we feel triumph and a sense of achievement. This is the reason why Candy Crush is so incredibly popular.
- Helping us reach the flow state: The flow state is when we are so immersed in something that we are only concentrating on that one thing. This is the ultimate goal of meditation – trying not to have jumping thoughts. But meditation takes years and years of practice and not everyone can master it. Playing video games transfers players into this state.
- Giving instant gratification: In the outside world, you have to wait for months for your diet to show on your waistline and despite working hard every day you have to wait for your paycheck till the end of the month. With video games, you can get instant gratification. In a few minutes, you can get to another level or win a few dollars.
- Making players creative: Most people don’t use the right hemisphere of their brain much and this is the part that is creative and artsy. Certain games require players to be creative therefore exercising this part of the brain. While engaging in art our brain releases less cortisol, the hormone that is responsible for stress.
Stress relief games
Finding the right game that releases stress levels, depends on the individual. Canadian studies have shown that even playing violent games does not result in violent behavior necessarily.
When playing video games might become a problem is when the individual is doing it excessively to escape reality or suppress emotions. In cases like that violent games can trigger violent responses in real-life situations, especially among teenagers.
Games that are particularly good for stress relief are puzzle-type games, relaxing games, and games that require strategy but do not include stressful scenarios.
Similar to video games, gambling can reduce stress. Don’t wager a lot of money though, as losing money is not going to reduce your stress levels. You can play hours of slot games with a few dollars of investment. Baccarat is another fun game to consider. You will not have to make any serious decisions and you might even win some money.
Playing with friends is also a great way to reduce stress. During the lockdowns keeping in touch with friends was only possible over the phone or the internet. While playing video games you don’t have to be in the same room and still you can be playing with your friends.
If done in moderation, gaming can help you reduce your stress levels. Find the game that suits you and lets you concentrate on nothing else but the game.