If you are like me, you may find your daily life leaning a bit on the stressful side. Whether it is feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, or even suffering from anxiety or depression, many of us have need for an outlet. Everyone has different ways of doing this, but this is a video game website, and I’m here to talk to you about video games and stress relief.
There have been a number of studies done on this topic over the years that show how video games can help relieve stress, or in the case of kids, help manage difficult emotions. In a study published in 2014, it was suggested that playing games after a stressful day can help adults recover from work-related strain. It isn’t just something you do for fun when you get home. It’s likely your games are actually helping you. Maybe you already know, and it’s part of what makes you enjoy games. What I want to get into now is my own specific example of stress relief.
When I’m stressed, frustrated, angry, or generally in a bad mood for one of a million reasons, I have a tendency to need an outlet for my aggressive energy. Catharsis theory is the idea that when you are angry, venting those feelings will help you get over it. Research hasn’t had much luck in proving that, especially since releasing anger sometimes fires people up more rather than calming them, but I do typically feel the need to find healthy ways to vent my negative emotions and energy (though I do love the idea of a good rage room where I can smash things for a while). Enter my relationship with Call of Duty.
I love Call of Duty (you might be aware of this already), but there are many things about it that honestly make me pretty angry. There are many things about Call of Duty multiplayer that are incredibly frustrating. Sometimes it’s lag, or the fact that no matter how many bullets I put into an opposing player they still manage to kill me. Some days I just suck (not every day), my kill death ratio goes down the drain, and my games are full of non-stop spawning and dying. It’s a situation where I am both angry and still somehow enjoying myself. So when it comes to needing a cathartic experience for my real-world anger, I boot up multiplayer for a few hours.
I find myself presented with several opportunities to vent. Don’t worry, I don’t use chat, so no one hears my frustration when I’m shot by a sniper, or blowing myself up with my own grenade, falling off a cliff… the list is honestly pretty endless. It’s just me, finding something else to focus my energy on besides thinking about my work day or all my responsibilities.
The nice thing about video games for relieving stress is that you learn to manage your anger (though it’s important to remember NOT to direct that anger at other people). I get upset, I might yell a bit, but I get over it and keep going. I might die over and over, but then I’ll take a minute to breathe and refocus. I’ve had more experience being frustrated with Black Ops 4 than any previous game, with seemingly endless connectivity issues and matchmaking problems. But, instead of tossing my disk out the window, I’ve problem solved and been patient. Eventually, I get a game that works. It’s a virtual situation where I can manage my stress, practice dealing with it effectively, and then take those tools and apply them in my real life. Life is frustrating. Sometimes things don’t work out the first time, or the second time, but I can take a breath and try again.
Call of Duty might not be that solution for you. Maybe you want something a bit more mellow and relaxing, to slow your mind down after a hard day. Video games can do that too. There are so many games out there! We all deserve a break, a chance to recuperate from our days, and to have fun. Take care of yourselves, friends. Let me know what games you play when you get stressed in the comments.