Video games are a ten billion dollar industry and growing all the time. Since this industry has grown so much and many believe it will continue to grow, there is no doubt that researchers have started to analyze the effects of playing these games. There are many positive effects including faster hand-eye coordination, strategic thinking, cooperative participation and careful analysis of in-game risk. These are great positive effects and researchers are indicating that video games can be an easy and healthy way to relate stress too.
Research has pointed out that playing a casual game for 30 minutes is a great way to relieve stress. A casual game is something that is easy to learn but difficult to master. It could be as simple as minesweeper or hearts. These games are easy to pick up and learn the few rules that exist. You can play for a while, save your game and then return when you need to 'get away' and forget about reality for a few more minutes. You can pick right up where you left off and continue your game without losing anything. These two games, along with a few others, come with windows and should be easy to find in your program menu. Furthermore, these games work in window mode means you can easily have it open with other programs like word and excel. You can switch back and forth effortlessly and quickly if the boss is coming!
Playing for 15 to 30 minutes a day will help concentrate your mind on something less important so you can forget about that stressful day. It is beneficial to 'leave' reality and dumb out for a short amount of time. Prolonged exposure to video games, even the mundane ones, could lead to repetitive stress injures or addiction in a few cases.
Casual games are not the only way to relieve stress but also video games in general. Casual games are anyway the easiest to learn but if you enjoy challenges and have the extra time, pick up a more difficult game. The learning curve may be steeper but the positive effects will remain. A few years ago, there were articles written about the marines playing Halo in their off time. This may sound strange that marines in combat were playing combat focused games in their down time for enjoyment. However strange this may sound for you and me, the effects were overwhelming for them. It created cooperation and team building as they had structured competitive play along with playing against others online. Along with these great positive outcomes, the most prominent was the distraction and stress reliever that playing games like Halo created. It is important for marines to stay focused and certainly playing Halo is not part of boot camp but the distraction it created allowed them to be more productive in the 'real' battlefield.
Next time you are stressed out and want to get away, play a video game that you are familiar with and enjoy. This is a much easier and inexpensive than planning vacation or even resorting to alcohol to relieve stress.