As I sit on my phone harvesting soybeans to make food for my cows, I take a look at the time and realize that it’s been 35 minutes since I last thought about anything but the game in my hand.
At first, I think, “Oh shoot, I should have been doing homework for the last half hour.” Then I click off my phone and wake my laptop back up to continue writing the paper due for sociology the next day.
I almost feel guilty indulging in simple, fun activities like an episode of “The Office,” a 20-minute nap or a trip to my virtual farm.
We spend so much time and energy during the day on things like school, work and social interaction that it’s sometimes hard to put our 24-hour cycles into perspective when it comes to what we “should be doing.”
What really are the determining factors when deciding what is the most pressing task at hand for the time being? Due dates? Assignment length? Time of night? It may be different for each person, but there are a few things that remain universal. One of these things is relaxation.
Throughout the day, we’re not given a whole lot of time to shut off our brains and simply exist, even for a moment. We’re constantly bombarded with stimuli both within and outside of the classroom, no matter the time it is when wandering campus.
There are lectures to hear, notes to take, people to talk to, lights to see, words to read, music to listen to and so much more that rip our attention away from simplicity. It can take a great deal of concentration to simply not concentrate on anything, even for a short period of time.
Up to this point, maybe it’s been assumed that the farming game I first mentioned could be considered a bad guy – a distraction. On the other hand, I see it as one of the good guys. Video and mobile games have been villainized over the past couple decades, but there are also ways to use them in a positive light people need distractions.
In the same way that first graders need recess, college students and adults need a mental break from their everyday lives and business. That step away from “real life” helps to distract the mind from the stresses of school, work or otherwise.
I think it’s completely unfair that we’ve been shown that once you’re past a certain age, fun things are no longer a necessary break in the day but a pointless distraction that takes us away from what we “should be doing.” In fact, it almost feels like high schoolers, college students and adults need it more than anyone.
Mental health activities are emphasized greatly in today’s society, but examples are given that have to do with exercise, meditation, reading and more. But how come sitting down with a cherished TV show or calming game doesn’t count as a mental break?
There are so many different types of people in the world; there’s no way all of them will agree on what helps them step away.
Not everyone is able to shut their brain off well enough to meditate. Not everyone is physically able to go for a run. The world in general is becoming a more open, accepting and accessible place to people of different preferences and abilities. Mental wellness activities should follow suit.
While I can understand that not everything can be used as a break from stress and heavy mental workouts, I can personally attest to the fact that the little farm I keep in my pocket is my mental escape from the woes of everyday life. And no one can tell me otherwise.