Mental health is a topic that has been brought to the forefront of the minds of many in recent months and years. A topic that was once taboo has become socially acceptable to discuss openly. Mental health has grown in importance so much that businesses in the UK are beginning to train mental health first aiders in a way that’s similar to the way people are trained to deal with physical injuries.
Of course prevention is always better than a cure, so ways of looking after our own mental health has become a popular topic of discussion in the media and online. Techniques will always be down to personal preference, but common methods of looking after oneself include meditation, reading, physical exercise and increasing your social interaction.
Games as a Tool for Improving Mental Health
One proven tool to help mental health and mental strength is playing games, whether playing alone or with friends. All games require some understanding of rules in order to be able to play them, no matter whether it is a simple game of tic-tac-toe, or a game as complicated as chess. Playing games has been proven to improve a person’s problem solving skills, memory formation and faster reactions.
The basic premise of games of strategy, such as poker and chess, can be picked up fairly quickly. In poker, it shouldn’t take long to recognise the different poker hands. Althgouh these types of games can take a long time to master, playing them can offer additional mental health benefits as it can provide a way to add structure to your life. For example, if you set aside half an hour each day to learn a new technique, you’ll start building a routine and receive those cognitive benefits associated with it.
Managing Stress Levels
Maintaining good mental health requires a balancing of stress to levels that are acceptable to the person. A tolerable level of stress varies from person to person, some may prefer a very relaxed life, whilst others may find some stress helps them to stay motivated. No matter what your tolerance level, controlling stress levels is important to maintaining good mental health.
Research has shown that as many as 53% of gamers play to help lower their stress levels, and 64% use games as a way of relaxing. Since around 50% of the US population play video games, and a reported 100 million people play poker world wide, it is safe to say games are a popular choice for many in managing their mental health.
Social interactions are a proven way of improving your mental health, although those that are more introverted may disagree. Playing games of any kind can help you to bond with friends and interact with others. This is true whether you’re playing video games, board games or card games, all of which can be played with friends in the same room together or online via services like the Playstation Network.
Whatever your favourite game is, it can provide many benefits to your mental health and your mental abilities. As mental health becomes more understood, we are able to make more conscious decisions to take control of it, and it is clear many are choosing games as a tool for doing so.