Playing Tetris can level up your mental health: psychotherapist – New York Post

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Turns out Mom was wrong about video games rotting your brain — at least when it comes to Tetris.
The block-stacking and puzzle-solving delight first launched in 1984 on the Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s now enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to video game streaming services like Twitch.tv, which had 55,000 players tune into a recent broadcast of Tetris play, and the 2020 launch of the World Puzzle League, which features Tetris champs competing against one another.
Also driving the renaissance, experts have noted, is the fact that Tetris is a great stress-reliever for our current era of anxiety. The nature in which puzzle pieces fall and must be manipulated in the game is therapeutic.
“There is something symbolic about things coming at you, or things that seem ill-fitting that you are trying to organize and compartmentalize,” said Manhattan psychotherapist Dana Dorfman, 54. “We are trying to internalize obstacles and make some order of them so we can continue to maintain our own equilibrium.”
Tetris first became a saving grace for Austin Bennett, 30, in 2010 when he was struggling with severe anxiety.
“It’s a great place to boost your self-esteem. It’s such a great escape and it’s cathartic when you get high scores,” Bennett told The Post of the game’s emotional perks.
His mental health has stabilized over the past decade, and he credits his Tetris-playing and how it’s connected him to other gamers.
“[It] really does help you get out of a stressful mindset. And being in an understanding community is a great feeling,” he said. “They have helped me work on my own social anxiety.”
Living in Columbus, Ohio, Bennett works as a chef by day and a professional Tetris player by night. He’s become a live-event organizer with the 12-year-old Classic Tetris World Championship and he founded the World Puzzle League — both of which have become hits in the gaming community since the pandemic.
Dorfman noted that Tetris doesn’t have a monopoly on video games that are good for your mental health. Other construction-like games, such as Minecraft and RollerCoaster Tycoon, can offer similar benefits when enjoyed in moderation and used to relieve tension, rather than adding to it.
“Playing games like Tetris gives the neurological experience of confidence and mastery,” she said.
They can also improve spatial reasoning. Bennett said he’s found that to be true in his own life: The game has helped him to be more organized in the kitchen.
But it’s really the mental health benefits that have proven most valuable to him. Tetris has helped him not just in times of general anxiety but also when he’s been stressed for financial reasons, such as car repairs and education costs.
“As long as you keep reality in check, it’s a great way to get away from negative things,” he said. “Tetris made the pandemic enjoyable for me.”

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