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Digital games relieve stress better than mindfulness apps: Study

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Mon, August 19, 2019  /  10:06 am
Digital games relieve stress better than mindfulness apps: Study

A study conducted by the University College London and the University of Bath concluded that smartphone games such as "Tetris", "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" and "Pocket City" are able to relieve more stress after a tiring day at work than any mindfulness apps designed solely to help in breathing or meditation activities. (Shutterstock/Georgejmclittle)

Relaxation can be considered a necessity in today’s ever-growing world of fast-paced culture. More and more, people all around the world are showing up to psychiatrists, taking steps to decrease stress and anxiety.

Many download mindfulness apps to help them control their breathing, practice meditation and essentially calm down. Yet, a study conducted in the United Kingdom concluded that digital games might relieve stress more effectively than mindfulness apps.

The study, conducted by the University College London and the University of Bath, concluded that smartphone games such as Tetris, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Pocket City are able to relieve more stress after a tiring day at work than any mindfulness apps designed solely to help in breathing or meditation activities. Researchers came to the conclusion after performing a series of math tests.

Two experiments were conducted to carry out this study. In the first stage, 45 students were asked to complete a 15-minute math test. Afterward, they were given a digital game, a mindfulness app or a fidget spinner to play with for 10 minutes. The students who played a digital game revealed that they felt more energized, while the students in the other two groups reported feeling more sluggish.

For the second stage of the research, a separate group of 20 participants was asked to play either a digital game or use a mindfulness app after returning home from work for five days straight. The study's result showed that those who played the digital game constantly for five days reported feeling more relaxed. Those who used the mindfulness app scored progressively worse throughout the week on relaxation ratings. 

Read also: Video games can boost creativity, study finds

According to a statement, Anna Cox, the study's co-author, said, “Far from feeling guilty about being absorbed by their phone, people who play such games after a stressful day at work should know they are likely to be gaining a real benefit.”

Though smartphone games are not often associated with stress relief, researchers say they check off all four factors associated with post-work recovery and relaxation. They are generally relaxing, they provide players an opportunity to learn a new skill, they are interactive and provide a fun distraction from the pressures of everyday life and, most importantly, they allow the player to feel completely in control.

According to lead author Emily Collins of the University of Bath, the study also suggested that playing digital games could be an effective way to protect long-term health and well-being. 

It is also worth noting that researchers were able to say that the more a participant seemed to enjoy playing the digital game, the bigger the benefit was in post-work recovery. (ran/kes)

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