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Video Games Fighting Stress: Illusion or Truth?

Have you ever experienced anxiety, headaches, insomnia, frequent nightmares, weakness in legs, disturbing thoughts or high heart rate? If you have at least 3 of these symptoms simultaneously, it means that you've been captured by stress. According to American Psychological Association survey, more than 75% of Americans live under stress.

It's not a problem if this state is temporary and you feel better soon, but if the tension refuses to go – it's bad news meaning that the problem is complex and you need to consult your physician. Doctors and medications – we all know that they help.But since we are not big fans of clinics and hospitals, it would be great to have a better option to fight stress in our modern world. The alternative already exists. In this article we are going to talk about games as one of the tools that might assist in fighting stress.

According to ESRB rating, we can broadly divide video games into two categories, depending on the way they affect person's emotional state:

1. Aggressive games that can let your feelings out

Society blame belligerent video games for provoking stress and hostile behavior, but scientific researches prove the opposite. Researchers claim there is no connection between aggressive virtual adventures and violence in real life. On the other hand, computer games appear to be good helpers in defeating temporary stress and reducing aggression by letting negative feelings out.

Here are some examples of brutal games to blow your steam off:

Burnout Paradise

It can be dangerous to drive when you are stressed, but nothing is as safe as driving a car in a video game. High speed and car crashes are not good in real life, but if a person has a soul of a race driver “Burnout Paradise” will bring a lot of fun. Unpleasant feelings will leave while you are involved with the game, but do not get too upset if you lose, because in this case the whole therapeutic effect caused by the playing process will fade away.

The Grand Theft Auto

If fast driving is not enough, try one of the most famous bestsellers among violent video games of all times. Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson, two psychologists form Harvard, have published their research under the title “Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games”, where they proved that playing this game does not actually cause stress for violence and, in contrast, is a great stress reliever. After monitoring life of 1,254 school children playing GTA, the researchers arrived at the conclusion that the long-established opinion about violent video games triggering disruptive behavior had been quite exaggerated. The authors noted that troubled children issue has much more powerful and significant causes that originate from society and family. In contrast, Kutner and Olson documented that violent video games provide children with creative and emotional benefits that help to relieve stress and get out of anger.

The World of Warcraft

The World of Warcraft is a multi-user online role-playing computer game with more than million followers all over the planet. The world full of magic and tremendous battles takes over your mind and allows to run away from the reality in a positive way. But be aware! This game is based on multiply gameplay and sometimes gamers can get rude and abusive. It's great if you can put up with such behavior and relax enjoying the game, but if you are a sensitive person your mental state can get worse and it's better to look for other options.

Many people claim that atrocious games are pretty relaxing. There is nothing as satisfying and soothing as destroying virtual enemies or insane driving expensive cars after a hard day for them. Neverheless, this kind of games is not suitable for everyone. If you are not sure that brutal gaming world is for you, just pay attention to your emotional and physical state while playing. Do you feel energized or drained after the game session? If the emotional state is getting better, you can boldly use gaming as a tool for combating stress. Just do not get carried away by the activity – playing for hours will hardly bring any benefits to your health.

2. Soothing mobile applications that truly relax

If you've already found out that playing a ferocious game is not to your taste, luckily for you, there are many soothing apps that help to relax by making people focused on the exciting activity. Just make yourself comfortable and enjoy your time.

Bubble wrap

It's hard to imagine a person who's never enjoyed bubble wrap popping. Now it can be done everywhere thanks to a handy mobile application. Soft polyethylene explosion helps to relax and forget about the worries.

Relax melodies

Ready to travel to some other places? With the help of this app you can instantly find yourself at the seashore, in the forest, near the campfire or even diving underwater. A high number of melodies and sounds are able to make you feel better and improve your mood in a couple of minutes. “Relax melodies” allows to turn on the tracks simultaneously and regulate their volume, so that you can create your own anti-stress symphony.

Paper Toss

Thanks to “Paper Toss” you can check your accuracy without sparing real paper. Just concentrate on the game and throw your paper ball into the dustbin as many times as you like. Soon you'll realize that all the disturbing thoughts are not in your head anymore and you have plenty of energy to go back to work.

Gaming and healthcare

Healthcare industry has already recognized the healing power of gaming. Custom medical applications created in cooperation with health professionals – that's an entirely different story in comparison with the above mentioned entertainments. These games and applications are developed to help with certain medical issues treatment, including anti-stress therapy. Special medical apps usually come as a part of the therapeutic programs or healthcare services and are not in the public domain.

It's important to realize that stress is actually an illness, and like any other disease it requires professional help. If not appreciated stress can lead to devastating consequences and result in more serious disorders. Doctors recommend to start fighting it with disposing of the factor that causes your tension first. It means that any steps you take trying to solve the problem will have a temporary effect without the real reason of your anxiety is still present in your life.

Can video games and mobile applications fully save you from stress? Obviously, the answer is “no”, but they are certainly capable of helping you to unwind and get rid of tension at least for some time.