Digital games relieve work stress more effectively than mindfulness apps

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digital games and mindfulness apps

A recent study compared the effectiveness of a digital game and mindfulness app on smartphones in promoting post work recovery.

Workplace stress is a harmful physical and emotional response that can happen when there is a conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands. Workplace stress can lead to various health problems including hypertension, obesity, and depression.

Some people may use positive coping methods such as seeking professional support, getting enough sleep, and making time for fun, while some may use negative coping strategies such as drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco. Without adequate coping strategies, employees are at high risk to harm themselves.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research-Mental Health, a group of researchers from the University of Bath and University College London, compared a digital shape-fitting game and mindfulness app in promoting post-work recovery, first in a laboratory setting and then in a field study.

Forty-five student participants aged between 19 and 36 were given a 15-minute math test and then asked to either play the shape-fitting game Block! Hexa Puzzle or use a mindfulness app. Those in a control group were given a fidget-spinner toy. The participants were asked to complete a survey before and after using the game, app, or toy and rated how tired or energetic they felt. Interestingly, participants who played the shape-fitting game reported feeling more energized and less tired afterward than those in the mindfulness and fidget-spinner groups.

In the second part of the study, 20 working professionals were asked to play either the digital game or use the mindfulness app once they arrived home after work for a period of five working days. Participants who played the digital game reported feeling more relaxed by the end of the week than those who were asked to use a mindfulness app. This study suggests playing digital games can be an effective way to help relieve work stress.

Written by Man-tik Choy, Ph.D

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Reference: Collins et al. Digital Games and Mindfulness Apps: Comparison of Effects on Post Work Recovery. JMIR Mental Health, 2019;6(7): e12853. DOI: 10.2196/12853.

Image by Jess Foami from Pixabay

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