Atari 2600

One of the tools I use to deal with Anxiety: Gaming

Yes I am a gamer. As a proud card carrying member of Generation X I can tell you that in 1982 I got an Atari 2600. I actually got a “sears” version, back then Atari sold directly to Sears (who was still a major, if not the biggest retailer in the country in the 80’s) my FAVORITE uncle got it for me, LOL. I’ve been hooked ever since. Back then you had to hook it up to the TV, graphics were horrible by today’s standard but god was it fun.

I’ve gone through many iterations of games and generations of gaming consoles in the last 38 years. I’ve been gaming probably longer than many of you have been alive LOL. I’ve recently started playing some of my older games again. This my hobby of course, I work full time, I have a family I have a normal life. Hobbies allow you to disengage from reality, more over it allows you to escape from things you don’t necessarily enjoy doing.

As an example do you hate your job? Are you having a stressful situation with your family? Hobbies are a refuge, and allow you something you enjoy that’s exclusive to you. Sure you can share your hobby with other people but having something that is YOURS is very important for your mental health. It’s almost like a safe space, it’s a place you go that you exist as you like. At least that’s how it is in video games, and I truly appreciate that aspect of it.

Hobbit Hole
So does this mean I can be a Hobbit?

Your hobby can be anything, cars, golf, pets, writing, and video games. In the end though it’s a great way to have something that is just for you, that you can be selfish about and not share if you don’t want to. It’s indulgent and people in your life may find it threatening to their relationship with you that you have something personal that doesn’t include them. It’s important to make time for everyone in your life and to make sure they don’t feel ignored.

However it’s just as important to make sure that you make time for your hobbies. This will make you a better overall person and far more relaxed and happy. Remember to not over indulge and to be clear with the people in your life what your hobby is and what you are doing. As an example, I game wed evenings 8-10 and Friday night 9PM – to whenever I go to bed. My wife and kids know I do this, and it doesn’t create an issue for us. I game with my son from time to time actually, LOL.

The point is, find something you like for you. Be selfish, but don’t let it consume you.

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Atari 2600

Play games for anxiety?

Full discloser: I am a gamer. I have been since I got an Atari in 1983 I haven’t looked back since. The growth in gaming, for me is staggering. “Back in the day” gaming wasn’t mainstream at all. IPhone didn’t exist, only a few people had computers in their house. Internet? It wasn’t accessible to civilians at that point. Now? Gaming is a multibillion dollar industry. People who dismiss it and the people who enjoy the hobby are really in the dark ages. Its here and its part of our global culture now. I game with people all over the world, Germany, Japan, New Zealand you name it.

Now for those of us with anxiety, some games can induce increased anxiety. Not everyone is equipped to deal with the realities of gaming. There are trolls, there are competitive people, and some games are not simple. Remember that “gaming” doesn’t just mean online games AKA what you see in twitch clips. It can mean chess, poker etc.

I found a pretty interesting article here

From the article: “During quarantine, we have to not only keep ourselves sharp mentally and physically, but also find healthy ways to interpret the world we’re facing. Playing games helps people break away from their work while still engaging in social activities with others. Games also help people experience escapism. Whether it’s a video game, board game or puzzle, we can take a break from the world and focus on the task in front of us. Playing games provide a unique personal experience and mental break.”

Escapism is a wonderful concept and for me it’s been effective for years. I play a game called “Lord of the Rings online” I have been playing it for a decade. It’s a blast. Now for me, I am a Tolkien fan as you can see from this post I refer to him a lot. I log in assume the role of a character and become someone else for an hour.

Is it healthy? I don’t know, I do know that for me it breaks the real world cycle. I am in a fantasy setting, I know it’s all made up that the impossible is possible. I also know the real world isn’t present, I can shut it off if only for little while. Maybe video games aren’t your thing, that’s cool. Perhaps you are of a certain age like me where you remember your parents having a card night

It’s the same concept really. The article is pretty well written and in the end I think the solution for anxiety is multi-pronged. Maybe gaming is one of the tools you can use to ease your personal anxiety? I know it works for me.

Interested in more posts about anxiety relief? Check one out here.