Prayer Beads, Candy Crush and Walking: 3 Stressbusters
What do prayer beads, Candy Crush Saga and walking have in common? They are all ways to pass the time, with the added benefit of distraction and relaxation.
How do I know this? Well, I have been observing my family members and then went online to do some research about the effects things like gaming, praying or walking have on the mind.
It turns out there’s some interesting facts out there, especially when it comes to gaming and the effects of prayer.
Prayer beads are a tool to keep a sequence of prayers, chants or meditations. While you keep track of the prayers by holding one bead at a time, the mind goes onto autopilot, reaching a meditative state and providing a distraction from other thoughts.
In Catholicism, prayer beads are used to recite the Mysteries of the Rosary, a tradition stemming from the 16th century. Prayer beads are also used by other religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism and the Bahá’í Faith.
This led me to search for the effects that reciting prayers and mantras have on the mind. It turns out that prayer elicits the relaxation response, therefore lowering blood pressure and reducing other stress factors. Interesting!
Candy Crush Saga
Candy Crush Saga replaced FarmVille as the most popular Facebook game in 2013 (46 million users a month).
Why is Candy Crush Saga so popular? In 2014, Candy Crush Saga was played more than 1 billion times a day. The key is that the game can be played in short sessions and, while you can play as a team, it is not as invasive as multiplayer gaming. Besides, it contributes to social interactions (albeit online) because it is interactive and it prompts to help other users. Therefore, the effect this game has on the brain is one of reward, stimulus and motivation. It also gives an impression of real socialisation without the need for face-to-face interactions (removing also the anxiety trigger from meeting new people or from any self-esteem issues).
Sure, there’s plenty of studies about the addictive nature of videogames, but there’s also health benefits: a study from the Annual Review of Cybertherapy and Telemedicine found that gamers suffering from stress and depression noted an improvement in their symptoms after playing video games (they manage to “exorcise” their bottled up feelings of anger or frustration).
Regular walking can contribute to weight loss, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, while the meditative element of walking can help achieve clearer thinking and lower stress levels.
There are so many health benefits related to regular walking: studies have demonstrated that, for example, workers who commute to work on foot are more resilient to stress than those who travel by car or public transport.
Other studies have looked at students and their stress levels – those who walked regularly reported being less stressed. Walking allows you to take a break from your worry (and also gives you the time to mull over a problem trying to find a solution).
And have you heard of urban foraging? I discovered it (or, rather, rediscovered it as I used to do it as a child) when I did some research for my book on walking. Basically, with just one activity you could be losing weight, get fresh air, get some cardiovascular exercise, lower your stress levels, take some time out to meditate and even get some free food! Where do I sign?
Walking can either be a solitary or social activity and can serve many purposes: distraction, exercise, relaxation and, as we discovered, even locating food. Yes, foraging is a great activity that can be done while walking, so while you explore new areas you can search for different types of edibles like berries (it’s a Paleo paradise!).
Ancient Greeks did it, celebrities like Clare Balding, Arianna Huffington, Nile Rodgers do it… Let’s all do it!
Learn more about the benefits of walking in my book Strictly Walk Slimmer.
Recommended book on walking