While many things in everyday life can cause anxiety, gaming is one of the lesser-known ones. There is no scientific evidence to suggest gaming directly causes anxiety, but it’s hard to deny some of the feelings you experience when you’re losing a game, winning a game, or are embroiled in a battle with other online players.
Many gamers experience headaches, stomach pains, heart palpitations, and even a pins and needles sensation called paresthesia. If you’re experiencing gaming-induced anxiety, there might be value in finding solutions to alleviate it. Consider taking some of the approaches below.
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Take Breaks Often
It’s easy to spend several hours playing video games, especially when competing against other players in a virtual world. When you start experiencing anxiety-related symptoms in a high-stress match, take a break to help those feelings dissipate. Go for a walk, prepare a snack and drink, take a shower, or spend time with your family. You might then return to your game with a clear head, a regular heart rate, and a fresh mind to reenter gameplay with success.
Do Something Calming Before and After
You can’t always avoid feeling under stress when you’re playing your favorite video games. Some games can be so action-packed that your heart rate rises, and you experience a combination of anxiety and excitement. If you know you can’t avoid anxiety-related feelings during gameplay, try doing something relaxing before and after you play. For example, you might exercise before sitting down to play, then practice mindfulness meditation once you’ve finished to restore calmness.
Set Gaming Time Limits
Many people could easily waste entire days sitting in front of a computer screen or TV playing video games. While some games require significant time investments to progress and complete milestones, taking breaks is vital to reduce the risks to your health and well-being.
If you know you’ll likely lose track of time and play for several hours, set a timer to prevent that from happening. You might play for an hour and take an hour’s break or play for longer and do something else for the rest of the day.
Some games are more anxiety-inducing than others. Solo games without time limits typically allow you to get creative and play without experiencing any anxiety-related symptoms, while multiplayer action games might cause symptoms like an increased heart rate and a headache. If you know that some games make you feel worse than others, consider spending more time on some games and less on others. For example, if you know that a car racing game has you working up a sweat, set a timer, and start playing something else when that timer goes off.
Play With Friends
Some people experience stress and anxiety related to gaming because they’re isolated. They might not spend enough time with friends and feel trapped in a lonesome gaming world without company. If your anxiety stems from social isolation, consider playing games with friends. You might invite them to your home to play or ask them to play online in community-oriented games. Multiplayer games can sometimes be much more fulfilling and rewarding than those you play alone.
Some game levels are tricky. You might spend countless hours trying to pass a level, only to end up no further ahead. It’s only natural to feel angry and frustrated, especially if your friends didn’t have any issues passing the same levels.
If you feel this way, start watching gameplay online. By watching other players combat the same levels as you, you might feel more confident in your ability to succeed. You might even gain new skills you can put to good use in your favorite online games.
Watching other people play games might also reduce your gaming-related anxiety. You still get to immerse yourself in the gameplay action, but all the pressure is off your shoulders because you’re not playing.
There’s no harm in having gaming as a hobby, but there might come a time when the anxiety becomes too much to manage. If you notice uncomfortable anxiety symptoms while playing, don’t be afraid to take these actions above. You might then enjoy a far more rewarding gaming experience.