During the current pandemic, video game sales have skyrocketed as more people are stuck at home. But spending time enjoying the newest ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘Assassin’s Creed’ title might actually be beneficial for your mental health, according to experts from Oxford University.

In this study, researchers used data from people who played two games, ‘Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville’ and ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ and found that the actual amount of time spent playing was a small but significant positive factor in people’s well-being. By asking them how they felt about their experiences after enjoying a gaming session, the team found that a player’s positive subjective experiences during play might trigger a wellbeing factor.

While it is usually thought that video games are bad for your health by increasing sedentary levels and exposing you to violence, there are other psychological components to them which have a significant effect on a person's wellbeing. They can act as a cathartic experience during times where we’re expected to stay inside more time than usual.

Games like ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’, which was used in this study and is a social simulation game populated by real online players that even features its own version of the stock market, get people closer to social interaction than ever before. These types of virtual experiences provide sources of support, reduce stress, combat depression and enhance intellectual stimulation.

Video Games

As you age, it’s very important to keep your mind sharp and your brain healthy. Science points to a combination of social factors and healthy habits that can help keep it healthy and preserve its functions over time. While experts used to think that brain development peaked in late adolescence and it was all downhill from there, now we know that the brain can grow new cells and form new neural connections. Here are some tips on how to help your own brain do this:

  • Exercise regularly: Exercise is good for all your body, and this includes your brain. As little as 30 minutes per day, physical exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which increases cognitive function.

  • Watch what you consume: It has been found that high blood sugar can increase your risk for dementia, even without diabetes. Also, if you smoke, quit, as tobacco harms all your organs, including your brain.

  • Keep your mind stimulated: Just like our muscles and other body parts, the brain can rebuild itself through repeated use and exercise. Some exercises for the brain include puzzles and games, but also learning a new language, social activities that keep you independent and engaged with friends and family and trying out new hobbies maintain a healthy brain.

  • Sleep Well: Bad sleepers are linked to slower thinking and risk of dementia, so make sure you get from seven to nine hours of sleep - preferably at night. Also, try not to take any medication to sleep, as they can make cognitive problems worse.

What other good habits do you practice or perhaps you can think of trying out for the first time to keep your brain going strong?

Tips to Keep Your Brain Healthy

You’ve probably read about these or have seen them on TV: from Tokyo to all corners of the world, capsule hotels are an innovative idea that brings many benefits to its users and to the city. Capsule hotels are fancy hostels where, instead of sleeping in bunk beds, guests sleep in small, individual capsules in a hall with 20-40 others. In these hotels, bathrooms are shared but there are usually individual shower rooms to keep guests as comfortable as possible. They also usually separate men from women, a tradition that comes from its Japanese concept.

Originally designed for businessmen who worked late and needed a place to crash, capsule hotels are also a good idea because: they’re cheap: Since hotel prices in Tokyo can be extremely high, capsule hotels are a cheap alternative, charging around half their price - while still being located in the same areas as any fancy hotel. They also deal very well with large amounts of guests, as they can host hundreds of guests at a time in a much smaller area than most hotels.

Also if you lost your luggage while traveling, make sure to check in on one of these hotels, as they provide you with the regular clean towels, slippers, soap, as well as comfy pajamas, umbrellas, a toothbrush and toothpaste and other items to help you go through that first night in the city. Capsule hotels are also very quiet, as they have a “keep quiet” policy in all rooms, meaning there are no loud noises from outside or even from your neighbors in other pods or capsules.

So, if you’re planning a cool adventure (hopefully in the not so distant future), how about giving a capsule hotel a try? It’s never too late for trying out something new!

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