Play Tetris: Prevent PTSD

Play Tetris: Prevent PTSD

Play Tetris: Prevent PTSD

A couple weeks ago I was driving from Boulder back to Denver. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts while I drive to distract my mind from the fact that I’m going nowhere fast in heavy traffic. It works. There are so many podcasts with fascinating interviews that I become absorbed in listening and forget about the slow drive.

As I scrolled through my recent downloads on my phone (traffic was at a complete stand still so no worries) I decided to listen to one of my favorites – The Tim Ferriss Show. Tim was interviewing Jane McGonigal the author of Super Better: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient–Powered by the Science of Games.

I hadn’t heard of her before, but by the end of the interview I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to read her book. When I got home I went to Google and I began to search, seriously, I love learning about this stuff. Here’s what dominates the first page of Google if you type “Tetris and Stress” into the search bar.

Tetris video game may ease PTSD – Military Times

Tetris Shown To Lessen PTSD and Flashbacks – Scientific American

Study Reveals Tetris To Be An Effective PTSD Treatment – Digital Trends

How Tetris Can Prevent PTSD – Fast Co Design

Tetris Might Help People With PTSD – Mental Floss

Oxford Docs: We Can Prevent PTSD

Could Playing Tetris Banish Bad Memories – Daily Mail

McGonigal talked about the research from Oxford University which found playing the video game, Tetris as soon as possible after witnessing or experiencing a trauma could prevent flashbacks.

Here’s how it works:

“Visual pattern-matching games like Tetris are so visually absorbing, they prevent your brain from concentrating on what you saw, and therefore block your brain from forming long-term visual memories of the trauma. You will still be able to recall all of the details of what happened, but you are less likely to suffer unwanted flashbacks.

ONLY visual pattern-matching games like Tetris are expected to help. Other types of games (such as racing games or first-person shooters) are not likely to help, and some games (such as trivia quizzes) may even increase flashbacks.”~McGonigal

Interesting, huh? I am not a “gamer” and I just assumed video games hinder and hurt the brain, more than help the brain, but this research turns that thinking upside down.

Who Can Benefit:

“If you or someone you love experiences or witnesses a trauma such as a motor vehicle accident, a physical injury, a rape, a physical assault, a violent crime, the loss of a pet, a workplace accident, the death of a loved one, this technique could help prevent flashbacks and nightmares.

These are terrible things to imagine happening, but if they do, this simple cognitive vaccine could prevent months or even years of suffering.” ~McGonigal

Just remember, “Play, Don’t Replay” and perhaps playing Tetris after a daily stressor (like driving between Boulder and Denver at 5:00 pm) could be a healthy way for my brain to calm down and unwind as well? I mean, it can’t hurt, right?

Yup, I downloaded Tetris onto my phone. It’s my latest Healthy Discovery.

For more information about Tetris and Stress Reduction:

The Tim Ferriss and Jane McGongial interview

The original research study