Gaming and Self-Care: How Video Games Can Boost Your Mental Health

by Lara Solace
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Hey there, fellow joystick jockeys and keyboard warriors! Super Techno Girl here, coming at you with a hot take hotter than a dragon’s fire breath in an epic RPG showdown. We’re about to delve into an unexplored dungeon of gaming—one that’s been lurking in the shadows, not getting the XP it deserves. Ready your health potions and mana elixirs, because we’re going to talk about…drumroll please…gaming and self-care!

Now, hold on to your game controllers, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Super Techno Girl, you’ve got your wires crossed! Aren’t video games just a fun distraction?’ Well, my dear gaming compadres, they can be so much more. Today, we’re going to explore the magic hidden levels where gaming and mental wellbeing intersect. So, strap into your gaming chairs, we’re about to defy some gravity in this anti-stereotype spaceship!

Player One: Ready for Self-Care?

Contrary to the stereotype of games being a mindless pastime or even a cause of mental health issues, did you know that video games can actually be a form of self-care? Don’t just take it from me, check out this research from Oxford University.

Power Up: How Gaming Boosts Mental Wellbeing

Video games can give us a sense of accomplishment, provide social connections, and even offer an escape from the stresses of the real world. From farming in Stardew Valley to meditative journeys in games like Journey or Gris, games can offer a sense of tranquillity and achievement. Even psychologists agree! Dr. Kelli Dunlap, a psychologist and game developer, explains how gaming can positively impact mental health.

Boss Fight: Gaming vs. Stress

Games can be a fun way to distract ourselves from anxiety or stress. According to this study, games can provide a sense of control and competence, which can help combat feelings of helplessness and anxiety.

Co-op Mode: Gaming as a Social Activity

While socializing in person might be a challenge for many (shoutout to my introverts!), games can offer a comfortable space to connect with others. Whether it’s teaming up in games like Overwatch or visiting friends’ islands in Animal Crossing, gaming can foster a sense of community and belonging. Here’s a heartwarming article about friendships formed in the gaming world.

Epic Quest: Games for Mental Health Awareness

Some game developers are creating games specifically to promote mental health awareness. Games like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which explores psychosis, or Sea of Solitude, which deals with loneliness and depression, use engaging storytelling to create empathy and understanding. This list and this list feature games that tackle mental health issues head-on.

Game Over: Know When to Pause

While games can be a part of a healthy self-care routine, it’s also important to recognize when it might be time to step away. If gaming is causing distress or interfering with daily life, it might be time to seek help. Here are some resources for gamers who might be struggling with problematic gaming habits.

Remember, whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a casual player, games should be about enjoyment. So game on, take care of yourselves, and remember – it’s okay to pause the game and take a break when you need to. Your mental health will thank you!

girls with adhd or autism gaming mental health

Player Two Has Entered the Game: Gaming for Girls with Autism and ADHD

Quick detour to the real world, techies! You know, that place where we’re all flesh and blood and not just pixels and polygons. Out here, there’s a growing recognition of neurodiversity, acknowledging that our brains are wired as uniquely as the circuits in our favorite gaming rig.

Specifically, we’re going to focus our spotlight on our incredible gamer girls living with Autism and ADHD. Now, let’s get one thing straight: having Autism or ADHD doesn’t make you a side character in this grand video game called life. Heck no! You’re Player One, and you have your own special abilities that can totally change the game.

A study by the University of Cambridge has shown that video games can have a positive impact on girls with autism, helping them develop their communication and social interaction skills. This magical realm of gaming offers a safe and controlled environment where social rules are consistent and predictable, unlike the messy randomness of the real world.

Similarly, for our ADHD superheroes, video games offer an environment where they can channel their hyperfocus and quick thinking into conquering game levels and puzzles. The immediate feedback and rewards in games can help to improve motivation and persistence, as a study by Nottingham Trent University suggests.

But what’s equally important is that video games can offer a sense of belonging, a community where girls with Autism or ADHD can meet others like them, without judgment or stigma. They can become the masters of their own narratives, heroines of their own quests, and truly feel that they belong.

Remember, gaming is not just about escapism—it’s about living a thousand lives, exploring a thousand worlds, and in the process, discovering a bit more about ourselves. And for girls with Autism and ADHD, it can be a gamechanger (pun totally intended, of course).

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