In the past, there has been a lot of focus in the media on the negative effects of video games on our mental health and wellbeing. However, in recent years there has been a move towards considering the positive impacts of video gaming.
For example, shooter video games can improve your reasoning, spatial awareness and memory skills. Strategic video games can improve your problem-solving and creativity skills. Multiplayer games can improve your ability to communicate with others and can build up your teamwork skills. And, in my experience, playing video games can improve your mood and help you to relax and manage your anxiety.
My relationship with gaming
Gaming played a large role in my life when I was young as I played games for fun, enjoyment and a way to relax after school. I especially loved Lego games, adventure games like Super Mario Galaxy and detective games. I loved the way I could watch a story unfold while also having the power to change the story and pick the responses that best suited my characters.
Unfortunately, a few years ago my relationship with gaming became less about enjoyment and more of an obsession. I used to spend hours playing games on my phone in my room away from my friends and family. I would also spend a lot of money on in-app purchases to level up my ability and receive bonuses. I found it very difficult to stop making these purchases and to put the phone away. It was difficult to focus my attention on anything else, so I decided to make a change.
Making a change
I began playing games on the computer that did not include in-app purchases. I spent time playing Nintendo games to regain the passion that I had as a child playing video games. By putting limits on my screen time, I am now back to a healthy relationship with gaming and have a happier outlook on life. I find gaming more relaxing now and I am not consumed like I once was. I have started to enjoy multiplayer games and strategy games like the ones I used to play when I was younger. I love how strategy games can keep my mind active and help me problem solve. I enjoy playing online multiplayer games with my friends as it has been a good way to keep in contact through lockdown.
I love immersing myself in the characters and environments of the video games I play. It is like I have opened a door to a new world that I can explore and forget about the life and environment that I am in. This has proved very useful when trying to relax after a stressful day of studying. I can forget about my worries and my anxieties through gaming, which has had a very positive impact on my life. I feel much happier about my gaming habits now and I have seen improvements in my mood as a result.
As my relationship with gaming improved, my time management skills did too. I aim to prioritise my studies and play video games once I have completed my work. This has meant that I no longer feel guilty for spending time playing games and I enjoy gaming more now than I had done in the past. By becoming less involved in handheld games, I was able to make time for my family and friends instead of being consumed by my negative gaming habits. I have a more positive outlook on gaming now and I believe that it has improved my wellbeing and mood considerably.
If you are struggling with the impact of gaming on your mental health, reach out for help and think about changes you can make. You are not alone.
Author: Ffion, 21
Where to get help
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