Coping skills are extremely important when it comes to dealing with mental disorders. Some people read, go for a jog, or take a bath. I, on the other hand, play video games. Although I play several fighting games, the one I most frequently play is called Super Smash Bros. Now, the topic of violent video games can be a touchy one since I am of the belief that violent video games can actually be beneficial to the mental health of the player, as you’ll see soon. Playing games like Super Smash Bros, Fallout 4, Spec Ops: The Line and games of that nature can be beneficial to people with anxiety. At least, they are for me, a video game nerd with anxiety.
So, here are just a few of the ways that playing fighting games like Super Smash Bros. helps me cope with my anxiety.
1. I can stop thinking.
I overthink too much. I’m too aware of how I look to other people, how people interpret what I say, and I tend to come up with worse-case scenarios pretty quickly. I replay conversations over and over in my head, thinking about what I should, and shouldn’t have said, torturing myself over things that (in the end) don’t really matter. On the other hand, when I play Super Smash Bros., most of my worries disappear. A sense of calm overtakes me, and although my heart may be racing, it’s not because a panic attack is arising. It’s because I am doing something that I love.
2. I can get my anger out.
It’s extremely frustrating to have to limit what you can and can’t do because of anxiety. There are so many opportunities that I have available to me, but I can’t take advantage of them because it becomes too much for me to handle. I can get so angry sometimes at how little I can do, and I want to lash out. I don’t actually want to harm anyone, and since I’m against unnecessary violence, here is a healthier outlet available. Beating people up isn’t okay, but beating up a monkey or a short Italian plumber in a video game is a good alternative. As each match goes by, just for a few minutes at a time, I can express just a small portion of what I feel. Also, I can channel my anger in a more positive way, since I use that time to work on my techniques as well as vent. I get my anger out, and get better at the game.
3. I can have control.
Sometimes I can’t control my body. My hands shake on their own. My chest tightens for seemingly no reason. My thoughts race. It's a very scary thing that I have to live with every day. But when I play, I can take control of the situation. It’s extremely satisfying to me when I land several attacks on my opponent, take control of the match, and let it go, leading to a win. It makes me feel powerful as if this is the only thing I can control. Instead of my hands shaking, they press the buttons on my controller with determination.
In the end, everyone needs to have a way to cope with their stress. For some it may be listening to music, for others it may be blowing the heads off of enemies. Video games have been extremely useful in managing my mental health, and I hope that everyone tries to play a game at least once, just to have the experience. We all do what we can to survive and to get through the next day. Try to find what calms you down, and use it as much as you need to.