According To Research, If You Want To Bust Stress And Anxiety, You Should Play Games. It’s True!
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In a recent study, researchers have found that stimulating the areas of the brain that are related to thinking and problem-solving may help in keeping anxiety at bay.
Most of us come face-to-face with anxiety and stressful situations at the workplace and in our personal lives. Long-term anxiety can have a detrimental impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. So how about you solve a couple of puzzles to beat anxiety? Yes, it’s true! Researchers believe that if you take part in problem-solving or memory games, it could indirectly help you cope with anxiety, and could even help keep anxiety away.
In a recent study, researchers have found that stimulating the areas of the brain that are related to thinking and problem-solving may help in keeping anxiety at bay. In the study, conducted at the Duke University in North Carolina, USA, using non-invasive brain imaging, the researchers found that those people who were at an increased risk of anxiety were less likely to develop the disorder if they participated in activities that stimulate the brain region responsible for complex mental operations, for example, solving puzzles or playing memory games.
As per the researchers, these findings help in reinforcing a process by which people could be able to improve their emotional functioning (mood, anxiety, experience of depression) by following an indirect approach i.e., by improving their general cognitive functioning.
The participants of the study were shown angry or scared faces, so as to activate a certain region of the brain known as the amygdala, and they were also asked to take part in a reward-based guessing game to stimulate activity in the brain’s ventral striatum.
The researchers studied undergraduate students to understand whether higher activity in a region of the brain, called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, could help people who are at an increased risk of anxiety to combat mental illness in the future.
Each participant was asked to fill out a series of mental health questionnaires. The participants underwent a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which is a non-invasive brain scan, while they were being engaged in tasks meant to activate specific regions of the brain. The researchers asked participants to answer some simple memory-based math problems, so as to stimulate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
By comparing the mental health assessments of these participants at the time of the brain scans, and then again in a 7-month average follow-up, the researchers found that these individuals were less likely to develop anxiety, if they also took part in activities that stimulated their dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The study was published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.