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Why gaming is healthy for the mind/mental health


Abundant evidence now exists that during the pandemic-induced lockdowns of 2020, online gaming surged in popularity as people sought to escape the boredom and anxiety of being confined to their homes. But was this a healthy way of managing these unique difficulties, or are there dangers attached to this hobby?

As with most things in life, the answer to both questions is a qualified “yes.” To focus first on the hazards of excessive online gaming, Psychology Today warned of the dangers of “video game addiction” (perhaps more aptly named “gaming disorder”) – an interest that turns into a compulsive behavior that the individual has less and less control over.

And yet … this may not be quite as “pathological” as it might seem. Mental health clinicians, for example, are wary about formally classifying this condition as a mental disorder, mainly because it’s exceedingly difficult to distinguish between a “disorder” and a passionate interest. Normal human behavior could thereby end up being pathologized as a kind of illness requiring treatment.

Even so, perhaps it’s wise to notice that, if you’re increasingly unable to stop gaming once you’ve started, you may be losing your grip, and the same is true if you keep going whatever the negative consequences might be (like losing your job). That’s a sign that you ought to call it a day and go “cold turkey”.

On a brighter note, provided you’re cautious about the gaming websites you visit, and you can see that they have favorable reviews, good 24/7 customer service and (for gambling sites especially) secure payment processing and prompt payouts, there are discernible benefits to online gaming. Specialist review and aggregator sites like Casino Passport, for example, deliver continually updated reviews and news on the best, most secure online casino gaming sites out there.

The more beneficial aspects of gaming arise when you’re able to exercise moderation over your behavior. Especially after a stressful day, online gaming can help you relax and lower your anxiety level. A 2021 survey by the British mental health charity Mind, for example, found that 16% of adults and 37% of younger respondents had used gaming to ease anxiety and tension during the Covid pandemic.

You might not realize it if you’re having fun while you’re playing, but online games can also help you hone problem-solving skills, which in turn can improve self-confidence and encourage more social interaction – both of which are mental health-protective characteristics.

Gaming is also a social activity, even if it is an online community; it helps foster a sense of fellowship and togetherness with your fellow gaming enthusiasts. Online friends can also become real-world friends, people to literally meet up with and socialize in the offline world.

To avoid slipping into bad, obsessive habits, make sure that you always have regular time set aside to engage in real-world/offline activities, whether it’s reading a novel, going for a run or a walk in the local park, meeting a friend for a coffee or joining a sports club. Regular exercise, for example, is known to be very conducive to good mental health and helps combat depressive tendencies.

In short, even if you love online gaming, don’t neglect your physical, real-world self – eat healthily, exercise regularly and make sure you get a good night’s sleep.