Press X to Heal: How Gaming Can Help You Recover
Gaming can provide the perfect refuge when you experience a setback IRL. Exploring the wilds of Tamriel can reignite your passion for adventure, while multiplayer games like No Man’s Sky can give your social life a much-needed boost while you recover from sickness.
Recent research suggests that video games can improve recovery and rehabilitation, too. Games that utilize virtual reality headsets can help folks re-learn motor skills and overcome trauma.
However, that doesn’t mean you should put aside all your responsibilities and commit all of your time and energy to platinuming Elden Ring in record time. Instead, think of games as a powerful tool in your quest to recover from physical and mental ailments.
Mental Health and Injury Recovery
Common physical injuries like broken bones, sprains, and joint tears require plenty of rest for recovery. Even breakthrough treatments like stem-cell replacement and keyhole surgery will have you laid up for weeks, if not months while you wait for your body to heal. This can be frustrating if you’re used to leading a healthy, active life.
Games can help you take proactive steps to protect your mental health during recovery. They give you an important outlet and can help you accept the emotions you feel while out of action. Video games give you goals to pursue while you’re sidelined and give you something to control while your body recovers from a traumatic injury.
Some games help you improve your motor skills, too. The Association for Psychological Science (APS) explains that “action-based video games may boost players’ ability to coordinate incoming visual information with their motor control.” This can help you return to normal life with new skills that will serve you well when driving or completing tasks that require precision. If you’re interested in leveling up your skills with action games, consider titles like:
- Mario Kart
- Dead Space
- God of War
It’s worth noting that video games shouldn’t be a replacement for professional help. If you’re struggling to see the brighter side of life, consider seeking professional counseling. Mental health professionals can help you understand mental health conditions and improve your resilience. This is key, as overreliance on video games can become a crutch that undermines your physical, mental, and social health.
If you suspect that you’re spending too much time playing video games, consider signing up for titles like SuperBetter. SuperBetter is specifically designed to help folks overcome ailments and become more resilient. You’ll set personal objectives of your own and will feel empowered when you take small steps to overcome conditions like depression and anxiety.
Humans are social animals. However, when you’re forced to take time away to recover, you may find it difficult to connect with your friends or catch up with social groups. Fortunately, there are plenty of engaging multiplayer games that can help you socialize while you rest and heal from physical and mental ailments.
You don’t necessarily have to sign up for intense first-person shooters or competitive battle games, either. There’s nothing wrong with playing titles like League of Legends or Call of Duty with your buddies, but you may find that the toxic community puts you off playing for good.
Consider trying out more laid-back titles if you just want to connect with your pals and experience the benefits of online gaming while recovering. If possible, convince your friends to log on to games like:
- No Man’s Sky
- Baldur’s Gate 3
- Stardew Valley
- Deep Rock Galactic
You may even meet some new people when traversing the universe or building your virtual house. These in-game experiences could even improve your social skills and enhance your current relationships. Even thirty minutes of farming together in Stardew Valley is more than enough to connect with your pals, promote better mental health, and break the boredom associated with injury recovery.
Recovering from an ailment is fundamentally boring. Even if you’re excited about physio, you’re likely frustrated about the time you have to take away from work and normal life. This can be particularly boring if your physical or mental ailment has diminished your ability to perform everyday activities like dressing and grooming.
Video games provide the perfect stimulus when you’re laid up and still have weeks to go on your treatment plan. This is crucial, as prolonged boredom can lead to negative health outcomes like depression, addiction, and destructive behavior. Video games counteract these outcomes by providing mental stimulation. Even simple games like Solitaire can take your mind away from your ailment and help you feel fulfilled.
If you’re new to gaming, consider starting with adventure-based games that involve plenty of exploration. Set the difficulty to “easy” or “story only” so you can focus on learning the mechanics of the game. Look for titles in genres that already interest you, too. For example, if you love fantasy novels, you’ll probably enjoy games like:
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Alternatively, if the idea of playing with friends is appealing to you, consider titles like The Elder Scrolls Online and World of Warcraft. These massively multiplayer online (MMO) games have huge communities and are set within vast worlds. You’ll be able to explore an ever-changing world and should be able to find other players who can help you build your skills and break your boredom.
Just be aware that these fantasy-style titles are easy to get sucked into. As such, you may need to switch up your setup to avoid ergonomic injuries. If possible, try to sit up straight and position the monitor so it is in line with your eyes. Try not to stare at the TV for too long and try to move as much as possible between rounds or encounters. Consider speaking to a physical therapist, too, as they may be able to incorporate VR games that improve recovery in your treatment plan.
Video games can play a crucial role in recovery. They take your mind away from your current condition and help you develop important skills. The right game can even boost your resilience and improve your relationships with your friends and family. Just be sure to avoid overuse and try to create an ergonomic setup. This will minimize the risk of repetitive strain injury and help you focus on healing up as quickly as possible.