As someone who has suffered with anxiety and depression pretty much all my life, I’ve always found gaming to be an amazing way to relax and keep my mind off of things. There are many ways that different types of games can help improve your situation, depending on the type of stress and how severely it is affecting you. Today, as I am going through a particularly stressful time of my own, I want to talk about some of the benefits of gaming that I have experienced myself. Please keep in mind that not everyone deals with these things in the same way, so what I find helpful may not be helpful for you, but these are just a few suggestions of mine, and if I can help even one person feel a little better, I’ll feel pretty happy about that.
Sometimes people have a tendency to overthink things. The mind can play horrible tricks on people, especially when there isn’t enough to keep one challenged. This is where puzzle games can come in handy. Tetris, Puyo Puyo, Panel de Pon (Tetris Attack in English regions) or other similar games can all have a calming effect on an overactive mind. They keep you sharp, focused, and challenged. They force you to live in the moment. In order to be really good, you have to be able to eliminate all distractions. For me, these games are usually a pretty good fix, because I am a horrible overthinker sometimes. However, that isn’t always the case.
Another common cause of stress is anger, and usually, anger leads to physical harm and destruction, either to oneself or to others. However, with the advent of fighting games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or King of Fighters, people can let out their anger and violence in a virtual environment where no one really gets hurt. Like puzzle games, fighters also keep minds sharp and focus, but the added bonus of simulated violence can help people let out their pent up rage and frustration. For me, Super Smash Bros. Melee will always be that go to game. I instantly feel a thousand times calmer when I start playing.
If depression is the issue, then my personal recommendation would probably be EarthBound, without a doubt. The game has its share of depressing themes juxtaposed with a cute and cheerful atmosphere, giving players the impression that while things may be hard in the beginning, and while there may be a long journey ahead, there will be a light at the end as long as you push through it and never let life get you down. When I was younger, the game helped me through some pretty tough times, and to this day I stand by it as quite possibly the best RPG of the Super Nintendo, if not the greatest of all time. It’s the reason I stand by Ness in Smash Bros., even if people refuse to accept his potential and put me down for believing that he could be viable in the right circumstances. In a more broader sense, it’s the reason why I stand by anyone or anything that people refuse to believe in or even give a chance to. Hope is very important in life, and EarthBound to me is a game that inspires hope.
Like I said in the start of this, not everyone deals with things the same way, and while I gave some of my own personal examples here, any video games can be calming if someone enjoys them. I just want to give my own experiences, in the hopes that maybe I can help someone else who’s having a tough time. Always remember that things can get better. Thank you for reading, and please have a lovely day.