The video game industry is booming, growing each day with players from all over the world.
New games seem to be getting released every month, which I am definitely not complaining about.
If you are anything like me you can spend hours playing video games. But as fun and thrilling as they may be, they can get frustrating.
For example, if your character dies to something silly, like lag (it’s always the lag, man!) or you just can’t beat a mission the first 18 tries (or is that just me?..) or no matter how many times you run a raid, you just can’t get the gear that you NEED…
…you may get frustrated, and rage.
Rage, by definition, is violent, uncontrollable anger. In the gaming world, it’s to describe someone that gets really, really mad over something perceptibly small, like a death in a game.
Now this can be a bit of an exaggeration.. for most. Some just yell at the screen and move on to the next thing to accomplish. But then there are some gamer’s *cough* Summit *cough* who punch their computer screens out of frustration.
And then there is game anxiety. The anxiety that is triggered by being 1 of the last 2 alive in Fortnite. Heart racing, hands shaking, sweaty palms. Now these all are symptoms of anxiety, and to your body and mind, it is experiencing what it perceives as an actual threat.
What if I told you you can use video games to help control your anger and anxiety in other parts of your life?
I got the initial idea when I was watching one of Tom Bileyu’s videos, but decided to do more research into it.
He stated, and I’m paraphrasing here, that he noticed his anxiety was increasing as he was getting more successful. To deal with this, he wanted to put himself in situations where his anxiety rose, so he could practice coping and bringing himself back down. However, there were no public scenarios that did not yield detrimental results (ex: public speaking). So he turned to video games to essentially “de-sensitize” himself to anxiety.
How Systematic Desensitization Works
Systematic desensitization is a conditioning practice that aims toward the reduction in fear, anxiety or anger by using exposure to the stimuli and then practicing relaxation techniques.
Desensitization can be achieved by gradually approaching the feared stimuli while maintaining a relaxed state. The practice works best when individuals are directly exposed to the situations they fear, so anxiety-evoking stimuli are paired with inhibitory responses.
Studies show that systematic desensitization is effective in reducing anxiety and panic attacks associated with fearful situations.
This concept means to get to the point of physical anger or anxiety, consciously recognize it, and then take the proper steps to cam down.
Doing this repeatedly can help build a method to calm down that you can implement in public situations.
Learning To Relax
Before you begin gradually exposing yourself to your feared situations, you must first learn and practice a few relaxation techniques. Some techniques that are commonly used in relaxation training include:
Note: These are just a few techniques of achieving relaxation. There are many more out there so find the one that best fits you.
Slow, deep breaths are shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, which can both be spiked by anxiety and anger. An effective breathing technique is the 4-7-8 technique. It essentially requires you to inhale through your nose for a count of 4 seconds, holding your breath for a count of 7 seconds, and then exhaling through your mouth for a count of 8 seconds. Repeat this process for at least 4 breaths, or until you feel calmer.
Progressive muscle relaxation, or PMR, is a deep relaxation technique that is based upon the simple technique of tensing, or tightening, one muscle group at a time followed by a relaxation phase with release of the tension. You can read more about PMR in my previous post, here.
Grounding is intentionally noticing how you are connected to the environment. So, intentionally notice how your feet are touching the floor, your back against the chair, your shirt or sweater feels on your arms, etc. This helps shift your attention from the stimuli to your senses in the present moment. This method can be used alone or paired with another method.
These are just a few methods of relaxation to assist you in systematic desensitization. There are many more out there so do your research and find the one that works best for you.
Before beginning systematic desensitization, you will need to have mastered relaxation training, or knowing how to achieve relaxation. If you have difficulty, you may need to consult with a professional who will be able to provide you with guidance. If playing video games triggers an addiction, or negative response do not attempt this. I am not a licensed physician nor do I claim to be. This post is based upon research and my own experience with gaming and anxiety/stress.
Until next time,