Bad Mood? Play a Video Game
I'm going to admit, I am not much a gamer. In my life, I could count on one hand the number of video games that I've actually become engrossed in for more than a week: Burnout, SimCity BuildIt, and (briefly) Call of Duty. While reading Jane McGonigal's SuperBetter, I have become very interested in some of the positive side effects of playing video games.
I've talked about flow before here and you have definitely experienced the feeling before - that feeling of being completely absored in an activity. Flow is awesome and I try and seek out tasks every day that can help acheive it in a positive, productive manner. Video games are one area where McGonigal says is very easy to get into a flow state which is not surprising. What is interesting to me is how you can use that quick dip into flow to help you out in other areas of life. Scientists at the East Carolina University ran a study in which one group was given a casual single-player game such as Bejeweled or Tetris and another group was assigned to just surf the internet. After 20 minutes, the people who surfed the web felt no difference in their mood while the group that played the casual game, were "able to withstand more stress and recover quickly" (46).
This all brought me to think about my personal life. I'm a developer, I'm on my computer a lot, and I often use it to "kill time" in between activities or around my house. This "kill time" activity usually involves browsing the internet for an extended period of time. I have recognized this before that sometimes mindlessly browsing is detrimental to my mood before, but more often than not, it's meaningless. SuperBetter has me thinking I should change that up though. What if, instead of browsing, I play Bejeweled or Tetris for a bit? Would that then boost me up to allow me to do more? McGonigal and ECU has the science to back up that theory, so maybe I should give it a try.