Mental health has become a big issue over the last few years, with a dedicated focus on finding new ways to get people talking about their feelings and concerns. With lots of attention on ways to improve mental health and increase exposure, there have a been a few surprising methods and techniques that are helping to ensure that people are having a much more positive experience in life.
We’ve picked out a mixture of five popular sports that almost anyone can try out. Each game is designed to provide a positive boost no matter what happens, so why not give them a try if you’re feeling blue.
There’s a reason why the game of kings has been one of the most popular board games for thousands of years. Unlike modern board games where the game is designed for everyone, chess provides an incredible intricate game that is simple to pick up, but incredibly difficult to master. From devious strategies used to better opponents to the high-pressure decision making that comes into play when a timer is used, chess can really give your mind a workout – which is key to a healthy brain.
You only need one other person to play chess, but the game offers another great opportunity to get out and socialise. With hundreds of chess clubs up and down the country, new players can get a warm welcome and an experience that will easily cheer them up during a bad spell.
If you don’t know what Fortnite is yet, where have you been? Flying straight in the face of super-intense first-person shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield, Fortnite is 100% online massively-multiplayer shooter with elements of role-playing, base-building and survival. Not taking itself seriously at all but somehow managing to become one of the top-ten most played online games of all time in the space of a few years, Fortnite is special for a few reasons.
First, there’s the gameplay. Cool, you get to fight other people, collect loot, explore maps and generally get up to no good. But the whole thing is ridiculous, from the over-the-top animations to the totally whacky celebrations that have now entered the mainstream, appearing playgrounds and on World Cup football pitches.
You’ll need a console with internet access to get started with the full Fortnite game, but there’s also a brilliant Fortnite app that brings elements of the game to mobiles, so you can still get stuck in when you’re out and about!
Poker makes the list for a number of reasons. Firstly, there’s the social aspect, as sometimes you’ll need to have a group of friends at the table or be in a casino to play a half-decent game, so you’ll automatically be communicating with others and potentially meeting new people, both great combatants to loneliness, depression, and general poor mood. The other factor with poker is that you need some brainpower to be good, although poker is still fun for beginners, even if you have to take it easy to start with!
Learning and understanding the rules, deciding which moves to play next, and using developed skills like reading peoples tells and predicting the odds of the next card being any good are all great mental boosts, as you’ll be focused on something completely different. Concentration is a great distraction from poor mood, so even if it’s just an escape for a few hours, it’s worth it.
We could have picked from literally hundreds of sports here, but walking football is one that has had us intrigued for a while. Following on with pretty much the same rules as its faster counterpart, the only rule is that player can’t run or even jog – they need to walk between positions, walk while dribbling the ball, and even walk when someone is closing in on goal. Anyone is welcome to try out walking football as the game begins to shake off its association with the older generation, but that isn’t a bad thing – over 65s are some of the best walking footballers out there, with years of practice – just don’t be tempted to lunge in with a two-footed challenge if you’re a ‘regular’ football player.
Ok, so we’ve picked an incredibly obvious one here, but the thing we’re really aiming at are known as hyper-casual games, of which PacMan was probably the first. Extremely simple in nature with a ‘pick up, put down’ style of gameplay that doesn’t need hundreds of hours of devotion, you’ll find hundreds of these games in the form of mobile apps: think Jungle Run, 2048, Candy Crush, Clash of Clans.
These games are perfect for a 5-minute break away from whatever is getting you down and are essentially a miniaturised form of escapism (what game isn’t?) that can let your mind wander from whatever is troubling you. You don’t need to go out and buy an original Pac Man arcade box, but that might be fun too!
With so many games out there to try out, there’s loads of excuses to get out of the house, stop feeling bad about something, or to combat genuinely debilitating depression or anxiety. Even with minimal effort, some of these games will at best open up the door to new opportunities and relationships, and at the minimum provide entertainment for a short period of time!