One Man’s Experience of Video Games and Mental Health

Video games and mental health have a surprisingly long history. There has been much written about the moral panic of violent video games, to the cognitive benefits of play. One aspect that has been overlooked is how video games and mental health relate to each other, especially in terms of depressive and stressful situations.

In a detailed and personal long read, one gamer has laid out his journey with video games and mental health, and how playing games gave him hope for the future. Whilst not a magic cure, video games were a beneficial activity to turn to: “In my case at least, changing my lifestyle and accessing treatment in the real world was what mainly improved my mental health, but gaming provided a useful outlet during the worst times.”

The article also focuses on how games can be inspiration for change, highlighting their ability to: “tell interactive stories about the future that can provide an inspiration for the kind of real world political and social change that would ensure people don’t end up feeling depressed in the first place.”

The author compares the best types of video game story to speculative fiction, where imaginative concepts can be explored in detail. “Utopian stories have been a source of political and social inspiration for hundreds, if not thousands of years, they illuminate problems in our present while also modelling solutions for our future.”

The article advocates the role of video games to be part of an “avenue to explore and spread ideas for use in our everyday lives”, which can help lead to a more positive future, or at least give hope for one.

Gaming, Mental Health and Seeing the Future [via The Leveller]

Further Reading: Boost Your Productivity

Boost your productivity with these useful links and inspiring stories.

Know your work

Knowing the difference between “deep” and “shallow” work can help with structuring your day around what needs to be done. Not replying to emails immediately, or going out to lunch may be seen as lazy by some, but as this article argues: “If you’re driven to produce things that matter, then you need to put deep work at the center of your professional life.”

Link [via 99u]

Revise your to-do list(s)

It’s easy to fall into bad habit with to-do lists: vague goals, mixing of short and long-term goals, and making the distinction between tasks and projects are amongst some of the factors explored in depth in this handy article.

Link [via Smart Productive Work]

Change your routine

Google employee Jake Knapp took a long, hard look at his daily routine and made changes to get the most out of his work time, restore his work-life balance, and enjoy both in the process. The result was a “sprint” system which encourages approaching tasks in 5-day chunks.

Link [via Fast Company]

Take a break

Napping is a great way to take a break and boost your productivity. If you find yourself tired, but need to finish a task, a quick nap can give your body and brain a quick refresh. To learn more about the power of napping and most importantly, how to nap, check out our guide below.

Further Reading: The Power of Napping


Mythbusting: The Myers-Briggs Personality Test

Personality tests are hugely popular both online and offline, and the Myers-Briggs personality test (otherwise known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI) is one of the most well known and widely used. The test in based on Jungian theory of personality, and divides people in 16 “types” which are combination of the following binaries:

  •  Extraverted or Introverted
  • Sensing or Intuiting
  • Thinking or Feeling
  • Judging or Perceiving

The test is taken by 2.5 million people a year, and is so seriously regarded that it is used by HR departments, recruitment consultants, and employers in a variety of industries in order to assess employees and their potential strengths and weaknesses in their role and interacting with others.

MBTI History

The only problem with the MBTI test is that the science behind it is seriously wonky. First developed in the 1900s by a mother and daughter pair who were advocates of Jung’s notions of psychological types. They initially developed their personality test to help people better understand themselves and find jobs which suited their personalities as decreed by the test results.

MBTI Dangers

Human personalities are flexible, which the binaries of the MBTI test are too rigid to accommodate. You’re either an introvert or an extrovert, a thinker or a feeler; there’s no in between. Employees of the companies who use this test can find themselves forced into roles and perceptions of themselves which may be suitable on the day of the test, but not in the future.

People who take the test out of curiosity may find that the test matches their mood on the day of taking it, but also run the risk of false perceptions of themselves if they think that the results are set in stone.

Ultimately, there is no test for personality which can provide a magic answer for the perfect vocation, or say exactly what a person’s personality will be forever. If there is such a test, MBTI isn’t it.

Why The Myers-Briggs Personality Test Is Misleading, Inaccurate, And Unscientific [via Business Insider]

How Music Changes Behaviour

Hi-fi manufacturing company Sonos has recently undertaken research into how music changes behaviour. While companies of various types often undertake research which can be used for marketing either a new or existing product, every so often the research can be valid and insightful (and not a fake science con such as the concept of “Blue Monday“).

Sonos teamed up with Apple Music and Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist and author of This is Your Brain on Music: Understanding a Human Obsession, a major publication into music and the human mind. Together, they ran polls of 30,000 music listeners and also ran various experiments for two weeks through 30 households across the world. For the first week, participants did not listen to music at home. For the second week, they did.

One of the main findings of the experiment was that music brought people together, and not in a metaphorical sense. The study found that with music on, average distances between household members decreased by 12%. 33% were more likely to cook together, and couples’ intimacy increased by 66%.

Music was also reported to have a beneficial effect on mental states. There was a 24% decrease of irritability and a 16% increase of positive feelings with music playing.

Links to the full report and a handy summary can be found below.

Can Music Out Loud Change the Way We Connect at Home? [via Sonos]

How Music Changes Your Behavior At Home [via FastCompany]

App Asks For GPS Art, Community Responds

Fitness app company Endomondo recently ran a #TrackYourArt campaign which encouraged users to create some truly delightful GPS art.

The community of Endomondo users from around the world were asked to use the app to track their run, walk or cycle to make a line drawing. Entries include a gnome, spartan helmet, a dog, and the super-cute snail in the header of this article.

If you’re looking for a way to add a bit of variety to your walk, cycle or run, then this is certainly one way to do it.

The Winners of the #TrackYourArt Contest Are… [via Endomondo]

Mythbusting: 50 Inaccurate Psychological Terms

Open-access publisher Frontiers in Psychology has recently published a list of 50 inaccurate psychological terms.

This extensive list of “misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases.” is full of commonly used, but not commonly understood terms.

Aimed at students and teachers in order to curb “terminological misinformation and confusion,” the list also provides corrective terms and information.

Breaking down misconceptions into sections such as “Frequently Misused Terms”, Inaccurate or Misleading Terms”, and “Oxymorons”, the list tackles commonly used terms such as “Autism epidemic”, “Bystander Apathy”, and “Closure.”

It’s a comprehensive and highly technical list, but utterly fascinating.

Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid [via Frontiers in Psychology]

Floral Art Installation in Mental Health Centre

In 2003, American artist Anna Schuleit made a floral art installation in a mental health centre to honour patients, staff, and the building itself upon its closure. Entitled BLOOM, the installation was made up of 28,000 flowers and 5,600 square feet of sod, which were placed throughout four floors of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC). Schuleit also used the building’s public announcement system to quietly pipe the sounds of the MMHC recorded during its final weeks.

In an interview with Colossal, Schuleit explained her process and how the installation was inspired by the fact that whilst flowers are common for hospital patients, their absence is noticeable in mental health institutions: “As a visiting artist I had observed an astonishing absence of flowers in psychiatric settings. Here, patients receive few, if any, flowers during their stay. Bloom was created to address this absence, in the spirit of offering and transition.”

The installation ran for four days before the building closed. All the flowers and sod used in the installation were “donated to psychiatric hospitals, general hospitals, halfway houses and homeless shelters throughout New England.”

The flowers may be gone, but the project is preserved online though the official project website, and interviews with the artist.

BLOOM Project [via Bloom]

Anna Schuleit Interview [via Colossal]

One Woman’s Confrontation of Her Own Worst Enemy

Are you your own worst enemy? A common symptom of poor mental health is a stream of negative thoughts, voices which berate and belittle. These thoughts can wear people down over time, to the point where they become normal and believable.

Lotte Lane, a woman who has lived with these thoughts for as long as she can remember, has recently written about how starting therapy helped her confront her internal criticism, and how doing so improved her mental health.

“Those thoughts – the horrible, soul-crushing messages pinging around in my brain – were just thoughts. Not reality. Not truth. Not God-given fact.”

Lotte continued therapy, and one day, decided to “confront the bully in my brain”. She made a list of all the things her “shitty committee” said about her and filmed herself reading the list out. The almost 5-minute video is emotional in ways, and Lotte cites this moment as being a real turning point in her mental health taking a turn for the better: “Confronting my shitty committee was my first wobbly step towards learning to like myself.”

You can read the full article and watch Lotte’s video through the link below.

I’m My Own Worst Enemy [via Blurt]

How to Improve Critical Thinking

Knowing how to improve critical thinking skills is an excellent place to start if you want to form better opinions, make better decisions, and approach problem solving in new ways.

Conversationally, critical thinking doesn’t mean being critical in a literal, or even negative sense. At its best, critical thinking allows you to analyse information from a more impartial stance in order to judge exactly what is being said and how you feel about it. This leads to gaining better understanding of your own opinions, biases, habits and instincts.

In terms of decision making and problem solving, critical thinking can help you approach problems from new angles, increasing your chances of finding an appropriate solution.

There is some training involved if you want to improve critical thinking ability. Skills website Lifehacker has put together a comprehensive guide to the process which incorporates: attention to details, asking questions, phrases to listen for, knowing your biases, and tips for practising.

It’s an intensive rundown of all you need to know to train your brain into a better way of thinking which can be of benefit in many ways.

How to Train Your Mind to Think Critically and Form Your Own Opinions [via Lifehacker]

Further Reading: The Power of Napping

As important as a good night’s sleep is, the power of napping is undeniable when done right. Due to a pervasive 24-hour culture, napping has an unwarranted social stigma and association with laziness, which can lead to guilt and burnout. However, done the right way, a nap can be an essential boost to your day, helping you both mentally and physically. We’ve compiled some of the best tips and interesting facts about napping to help guide you to the land of quick nods.

The power of napping and sleep cycles

Napping has huge benefits to both brain and body, including (but not limited to): memory, mood, learning ability, alertness, productivity, blood pressure and even weight management. However, the timing of naps has to be considered in order to get the best results by working with humans’ natural sleep cycles and therefore avoiding oversleeping and drowsiness.

Link [via io9]

The benefits of a quick nap are generally determined by the length of the nap. Shorter naps are best for staving off tiredness, whilst longer naps can give a longer boost to your day. Knowing sleep cycles is an important way of determining the length of time for a nap.

Link [via The Art of Manliness]

Knowing how and when to nap

Not everybody needs to nap, and if you are needing the type of sleep which naps cannot fulfil, then you may need to examine your sleep patterns and habits in more depth rather than papering over the cracks by napping.

Link [via Time]

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with sleep cycles and whether you need to nap or not, it’s time to settle down and get ready to get the most out of your nap. Whether it’s a one-off or habitual nap, preparing the right environment for a nap is crucial to experience its benefits.

Link [via Lifehacker]

Napping in history and around the world

The most famous type of nap is most likely the siesta. This habit has a long and fascinating history, which stretches far beyond Spain and far into our ancient history.

Link [via Slumberwise]