If you are reading this, then you love playing video games, and you are not alone. Millions of people around the world play games to have fun, get an escape and hang out with their friends. However, while it is easy to lose yourself in your favorite game, proceed with caution.
Though you may not realize it, playing video games regularly can create its fair share of medical issues. These conditions can range from mental health issues to hand pain and vision deterioration. But worry not. By understanding the risks and taking preventive measures, you can play safely. We will talk about exactly that and offer some suggestions to ease the pain.
Video game addiction and its threat to our mental health are newsworthy, and experts conclude this for several reasons.
One area often discussed is video game addiction. When we game, our brains release dopamine into our systems, which leads us to feel pleasure. This rush can be more excessive than when engaging in other tasks because of the constant movement and instant gratification. While not everyone will become addicted to that feeling, game in moderation and engage in other activities in between.
Avoiding contact with people outside of gaming could lead to isolation and social anxiety. Gamers who continue to self-isolate can sometimes be drawn to dangerous activities such as consuming drugs and alcohol. They also struggle to form relationships, which could, in turn, result in depression.
The chance of depression is very real, and it can be inescapable if actions are not taken. For starters, it is a smart idea to reduce gaming time to a more moderate pace. If that doesn’t help the situation, then it may be time to consider therapy. Medication may also be necessary. Keep in mind that the chemistry of antidepressants prevents them from working on everyone. Thus, if you still feel apathetic or you can’t sleep at night, talk to your doctor about an adjustment.
While you may not always be engaged in physical activity when playing, there is the chance of bodily harm if you don’t use caution when gaming over time. For instance, you may have noticed that your eyes begin to get tired after a few hours and that is due to eye strain. If you aren’t careful, staring at screens for too long could result in double or blurred vision, dry eyes, and excessive headaches. To mitigate the damage, follow the 20-20-20 rule, where you pause the game every 20 minutes to look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
The most exciting video games can have you gripping your controller, white-knuckled and ready to go, but caution is necessary as repetitive movements can result in carpal tunnel syndrome (pain in the wrist) and gamer’s thumb, which is pain due to repetitive movements of your fingers. Tennis elbow is also possible if you use your wrist and arm a lot during the game. Do your best to avoid these ailments by taking a break during gaming sessions to stretch your hands and see a doctor if you begin to feel pain.
While not everyone will be affected, video games have also been tied to seizures, which are sudden electrical disturbances in the brain. Sometimes, flashing graphics and jumping scenes can trigger these seizures in those predisposed to epilepsy and they can be very dangerous, especially if you have an episode while alone. To prevent harm when falling in the case of a seizure, make sure to stand or sit at least 10 feet from the TV and you may want to wear sunglasses if the game you are playing has an epilepsy warning.
Lack of Physical Movement
A final health threat that can impact many gamers is obesity, typically due to a lack of activity after sitting for long periods of time. When we fail to engage in even moderate exercise, our bodies become weaker, there is an increase in the risk of severe health risks including heart disease, and our lungs lose capacity, so it is easier to feel breathless even when engaging in moderate activity.
To stay fit and avoid potential damage, make it a habit to get up and walk around after every hour of gameplay. When you wake up in the morning, engage in 20 minutes of running on the treadmill or even power walking through the neighborhood. Also, be sure to watch what you eat. When we are stationary, we tend to trick ourselves into thinking we are hungry, but avoid overindulging in fast food and drink water throughout the day to crave those feelings.
Those who feel they are in good physical shape may not have to worry about obesity, but if you sit for long periods, you may be doing other harm to your body. One common ailment for gamers is deep vein thrombosis, which is the development of blood clots in your veins, often due to a lack of movement. If left untreated, the condition could result in aches and pains in addition to an increased chance of cancer. To avoid this possibility, move around as you play. If you are a computer gamer, get a standing desk so you can stay active.
In the end, while gaming may be fun, like every activity, it is not without its risks. By thinking and acting proactively, you can enjoy your games for years to come and stay healthy along the way.