Let the Games Begin: A Commitment to Play Supports Your Mental Health
Then there are the games that seem as if they are foundational parts of the world. Chess. Mahjong. Go.
And games that seem to be quintessentially American: Monopoly. The Game of Life. Texas Hold ’em.
There are party games, video games, games of chance, games of skill, one player and multiplayer games, games that take mere moments and games that seem to last forever. The chances are good that every single person you know could name their favorite game—and that if you asked 10 people, you would get as many as 10 different answers. You no doubt have a favorite of your own.
But no matter what answer any given person gave, if you asked them why a certain game was their particular favorite, they would likely give you an answer that boils down to this:
Games are fun.
And because games are fun, they can help support your mental health.
Games for One: Moments of Engagement and Accomplishment
There are plenty of games you can play by yourself, like Wordle or Solitaire or any of a host of video games. These sorts of games can provide a brief bit of respite during a busy day. Taking a few moments to solve the day’s puzzle or complete the next level of an ongoing game can be just what you need to reset.
Diving into a quick game gives your mind a rest from all of the thoughts and feelings that accompany our stressful days. When you have success in a game, you also get to enjoy a feeling of accomplishment that can give your mood a boost. And if you don’t have success? You can look forward to trying again next time while enjoying the benefits of taking a break. These breaks are great boredom busters.
Games for the Gang: Moments of Friendship, Laughter, and Joy
Of course, part of the fun of many games is that they provide an opportunity for friends and family to get together to enjoy a shared activity that is all about having fun. Friendly competition, shared laughter, and the making of memories are some of the ways in which playing games brings people closer together.
Strong social connections are important to your mental health, and playing games is a great way to build and maintain those connections. A regularly scheduled game night can bring friends together and give the players something to look forward to between meetups.
A Few Ground Rules for Keeping Games Fun
We would be remiss if we did not mention a few ways playing can go awry—ways that are not good for your mental health or your relationships.
Though we have all been told since childhood not to be a sore loser, some folks never seem to get the hang of losing with grace and good humor. If you find yourself playing a game with someone who just cannot stand to lose, it is probably time to find new players. If you yourself are the sore loser, it is a good idea to take a break from playing. A conversation with your therapist might be a good starting point for finding a solution to the issue.
On the other side of the ledger, it is important to be a gracious winner as well. No one likes it when a winner gloats. If you are playing with an ungracious winner—or if you are an ungracious winner yourself—the same advice as above applies.
Finally, we would urge you to be cautious about gambling. Putting money on a game can amp up the excitement, but the consequences can be quite serious. The danger is heightened for those who have struggled with addiction of one kind or another. Gambling itself can be quite addictive, and the losses can add up in a hurry. Weigh the risks carefully before you put your money down.
If you keep these ground rules in mind, you can play games to your heart’s—and your mind’s—content.
We Play to Win When it Comes to Your Mental Health
At Peak View Behavioral Health in Colorado Springs, we are committed to you and your mental well-being. Whether you are struggling with depression, a disorder grounded in trauma, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, we can help. We offer personalized care grounded in evidence and delivered with empathy. We can help you improve your overall mental health—and help you maintain those gains over time.