ARTS & LEISURE HEALTH Social SOCIAL & HEALTH SPORTS

Research finds that playing has a positive influence on the mental health of adults

In today’s society, playing video games is not really perceived as a suitable activity for adults. Games are considered a good source of entertainment, but also a waste of time and a way of being unproductive.

It is a generally valid perception that once we reach an age threshold and become adults, it is time to mature and take things more seriously.

Whether we’re talking about computer games, board games or casino online games, the conclusion is always the same: games are not good.

Freedom to learn

However, what if you we told you that the truth is very different and that, in fact, gaming has multiple beneficial effects on the mental health of adults?

Games help adults disconnect, and are a healthy way to escape the daily routine. At the same time, playing stimulates brain activity, and contributes to the development of imagination, creativity and problem-solving abilities.

You may be wondering what the learning process has to do with play; apparently, the two are at opposite poles, but psychology Professor Peter Gray argues that, despite popular opinion, play and curiosity are the grounds for learning.

Peter Gray is a professor and researcher in psychology at Boston College. He has published numerous studies in the field of education, as well as works in comparative and evolutionary psychology. He is the author of the book Freedom to Learn, a book that talks about the role of playing in the development of children, but also throughout their lives. In short, Gray testifies that when we are children, we have a natural curiosity to discover, explore and educate ourselves. We express this curiosity through playing games, but as we grow older, this curiosity is suppressed by various social factors.

Games and Happiness

Playing brings happiness and well-being. It is vital to everything we build around us, including relationships. Scott G. Eberle, another American psychologist, believes that we do not lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow older, we only inhibit it. In our quest to find meaning in everything we do, we forget to relax and just enjoy the experience, without any specific goal – as precisely this detachment is the key to happiness.

What to play as an adult?

Anyhow, there is no limit to the games you can play as an adult! You can play with children to rediscover your own innocence, or try adult activities like placing a sport bet, for an adrenaline boost. Also, do not forget that books, movies, music or theatre are also great forms of play and relaxation. Or, if you prefer something interactive, you always have the option to play online.

Obviously, games should be consumed responsibly and moderately, but next time when you feel very busy with your daily responsibilities, put them aside and try a game. As surprising as it may be, playing games is very important for maintaining balance and mental health in adult life.

Photo credit: Lidya Nada on Unsplash

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