Minority stress levels have been high, and I can only imagine what people of color, immigrants, and women are feeling right now in this political climate. I want to remind people to take care of themselves, whether it’s by seeking the counseling of a therapist; confiding in a close friend or support network; or taking part in an activity that you enjoy.
Play is an essential part of everyone’s life and is necessary for a healthy mind and body. Though you may feel like spending 30 minutes of creating a Minecraft fortress is a waste of time, numerous studies and researchers have shown otherwise (1). In a general sense, playing video games (in moderation) has been shown to help with executive functioning, creativity, and persistence (2).
Whether you enjoy Candy Crush or Tetris they can be a positive (with moderation). Each of these specific games has been shown to assist with various aspects of our mental health. For example playing Tetris following exposure to a traumatic event can disrupt the steps that would take place to file a traumatic memory into long-term memory, decreasing the long-term effects and potential for intrusive memories. It’s also been found that playing World of Warcraft assist individuals experiencing Autism Spectrum Disorders in building emotional comprehension (3).
Check out the video featuring Jane McGonigal below for more information on how all of this works.
One of my passions is helping individuals who have experienced trauma, or are experiencing PTSD, to overcome that trauma. To put it more simply I love the help people move from Post-traumatic stress into Post-traumatic growth. So, what exactly is trauma, and what makes an event traumatic?
Trauma is an emotional or psychological response to an event that is experienced as deeply distressing or disturbing; it could be an event that is directly experienced or witnessed. For example if one person were to be involved in a car accident and another were to witness that car accident, the event could be traumatic for both. Trauma can also be caused by one incident (acute) or a series of incidences (chronic) over an extended period of time.
Traumatic events are different for each and every person. What may be experienced as traumatic for one person, may not be traumatic for another. One individual may experience trauma in the form of a military deployment, another may experience the trauma of divorce, a third may experience the trauma of child loss; none of these is “more legitimate” or “more real” than the other. Each and every one is a trauma and has an effect on the individual experiencing it.
Now, within trauma a whole bunch of “stuff” is going on within the brain. To provide an explanation on this I’m including a video on “Trauma and the Brain” by NHS Lanarkshire EVA Services.
Dr. Felitti’s work has changed the way we look at childhood trauma, chronic stress, and trauma in general. The ACE study showed how we as humans “convert childhood traumatic emotional experiences into organic disease later in life” (APB Speakers, Aug 28, 2018). In the video Dr. Felitti speaks specifically about obesity, though these correlations can also be seen within substance use disorder and many other forms of addictive behavior.
Trigger Warning for the video. He does speak about incest, sexual abuse, assault, and other traumatic events. None of these are discussed in detail.