Video Gaming, Your Aid To Stress Control.

The videogame industry is huge with many of the consumers playing violent shooter games while they save the world or finish some quest. These games demand a high level of manual dexterity, but also concentration as your adrenaline levels rise with the levels of attainment in the game.

Of course, the gamers know this is a fantasy-land behind the screen, but how does the stress of playing a difficult shoot-’em-up play in their daily life?  Well, Bouchard et al decided to check this out with a group of 41 soldiers and have reported in the current issue of the Public Library of Science (1).

The participants all had training in tactical breathing to control stress (breathe in through the nose, count to 4 and breath out through the mouth and repeat),  spent three days playing scary shooter videogames with stress control coaching or just the latter. Their saliva cortisol levels were checked to monitor their stress levels.

This stage was just the softening up period. On the last day they had a simulated first aid exercise were they had to deal with wounded personnel after a roadside bomb. Again they had to spit in a cup to check and quantify their stress levels. Those who’d had the coaching while playing the video games had lower stress levels than those who hadn’t been desensitized by several days of horror and mayhem on the screen.

 Maybe before we go for that big job interview we should have a few hours of violent video shooting while we tactically breathe so we don’t freeze up at the first question. Clearly, stress reduction after a hard day at work by a hard videogame session sounds like a good idea, but don’t forget the tactical breathing at those heavy-duty meetings during the day to help with controlling stress.


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