Saturday, October 16, 2021

Worried About Too Much Gaming


Dear Coach,

I enjoy playing computer games, but sometimes I spend more time gaming than I want to. How can I play them more mindfully?


Dear Gamer,

You are very insightful to recognize that you’re gaming too much. If you’re a teenager, you get double kudos for asking this question.

Jane McGonigal, PhD, director of games research and development at the Institute for the Future says, “Gaming can be a healthy pursuit as long as you don’t lose yourself in it.” She goes on to explain that the same regions of our brain that are under stimulated when we are depressed are hyper-stimulated when we play games. Playing games might give you a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of optimism, and provide a sense of calm. This is the good news.

On the other hand, games can become a time-suck or even an addiction. McGonigal suggests that whether gaming is beneficial or not depends on how you see them as they relate to your reality. If they are a crutch to avoid your real-life challenges, you’re in a downward spiral.

Here are some tips for staying out of the spiral:

  • Set a ten to twenty minute limit on game playing. Ten minutes of gaming can help you calm your mind and body but doesn’t allow you to get out of control.
  • Look at what you’re gaining from playing. Rather than measuring how good you are at blowing up aliens or playing “golf,” consider how well you’ve learned to focus for short periods of time. If it’s the concentration you love, consider taking up another sport with the same payoff, like rock climbing or meditation.

If you’re unable to stick within the parameters you set for yourself or feel you’re bordering on addiction, seek therapeutic help.

As a retired Certified Personal/Professional Coach, I’m delighted to bring my years of life coaching experience to Coastal Breeze News readers. I’m currently writing a self-help book, “Mom’s Gone, Now What?” and invite you to follow me at More than mother loss, the blog addresses how to live a healthy, joy-filled life.

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