Those who know me, know that I have frequent issues with headaches and migraines. This is something I’ve had all my life, but it is actually getting a lot better now that I’m not under so much work related stress or having a depression anymore. However, the other day I had another migraine that was really, really bad. I’m talking almost blind auras and light sensitivity through the roof, combined with sound sensitivity and a faulty smoke detector.

I was ready to chop my head off. Seriously.

However, there is a solution what works sometimes, although it’s not completely fool proof, and that is distraction. Unfortunately, when faced with a migraine that kills your eyesight, there isn’t much to do in the form of reading or visual distractions. There is however playing games with the brightness and audio turned low. There are studies showing that distraction as pain management is effective, and despite not working on all kinds of pain – migraines being tricky to treat or distract from by a medium that might actually aggravate them – distraction works in other contexts when the pain isn’t focused in your head.

Pain is experienced primarily in your head, meaning that a distraction that draws attention away from the pain for things like drawing blood or other medical procedures that might cause anxiety or pain can be both efficient from a pain management perspective, and lead to less anxiety for the person experiencing it. Don’t take my word for it.

Gaming as a Tool for Pain Relief
Electronic Gaming as Pain Distraction

What I’m trying to say with all this blathering, is of course that distraction as pain management works, and that we (well, I) can scrap the feelings of guilt we may have when playing games while sick or in pain. The truth is that distraction works, and personally I won’t feel as guilty moving forward when playing games while I’m in pain or while being anxious.

At a time like this with covid-19 beating on our doors, it’s even more important to use the few distractions we have to keep us from experiencing crippling anxiety or for that matter pain. Games happen to be one of those distractions.

With that in mind, I’m no longer surprised at the flood of tweets around Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the Final Fantasy remix that was released this easter. It’s a way to keep sane in a situation that might not be very sane.

Even though the articles above deal primarily with pain management, there’s also an element of anxiety management in the first article/ study, meaning that games do have a calming influence on people. In other words, maybe it’s okay to sit down in front of your PC and/ or console and replay your best comfort games to make sure you make it across the coronapocalypse as unscathed as possible.