July 4, 2024 opinion

How gaming helped me to cope with anxiety and homesickness

Sofiia Didenko in Denia, Spain

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June 15, 2024. Video Gaming at Cosplay World 2024.

Picture by: John Manard | Flickr

Many people consider gaming a waste of time or an addiction. However, video games have been my sanctuary, a place to let off steam and find a moment of calm amid life’s storms.

Sure, gaming should not be used as a way to avoid responsibilities and fully escape reality, but keeping it as a hobby and not an addiction, offered me a way to cope with my anxiety instead of being trapped in a cycle of overthinking.

I struggle with different mental health issues, such as anxiety, uneasy feelings about not being ready for impending final exams, and coming to terms with my parents’ divorce.

I also left my homeland, Ukraine, with my mother and younger brother two years ago, after Russia invaded, to live in Europe. Now I worry about the safety of the rest of my family, who are living in Ukraine under Russian missiles.

Each time, I have used gaming to take my mind off any distresses, especially irrational ones while balancing them with other aspects of life.

I like to say the ‘gamer genes’ were passed onto me from my dad. When I was little, I used to sit on his lap while he played the original Resident Evil 4 on the PlayStation 3 in the living room. As I got older, we took turns using the PlayStation 4 in the early morning on weekends while the rest of the family was asleep.

After my parents’ divorce a few months ago, I chose to live with my mother in Spain, while my father remains in Ukraine. Yet, the thought of having gaming as a bond with my father still comforts me. Even now, I often discuss new releases in the gaming industry with my dad.

I cherish those early memories now more than ever, as they have shaped who I am today. It’s safe to say that video games helped me bond with my father, starting as a child and continuing despite our distance.

According to a 2023 report from the Entertainment Software Association, out of the nearly 13,000 gamers surveyed from 12 countries, 71% feel less stressed and 52% said games helped them get through a difficult time. Gaming has also increasingly become less of a solitary activity with 51% of people playing video games with others.

When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of my country in 2022, many people, including my friends and me, had to leave our homes and relocate worldwide. As someone who deeply values the people around me, I miss my friends terribly. Gaming has become our way of staying connected.

Playing online games together helps us relax after demanding school days and eases our homesickness.

My favourite games are narrative adventures, where the story depends on your choices, such as Life is Strange and Until Dawn. They let me focus on the plot instead of worrying. Repetitive Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games, such as League of Legends, are also useful to calm down.

That’s why I think that video games, as a hobby, are an excellent choice for young people dealing with anxiety. For me, gaming is a type of meditation, it calms me down and brings me closer to my friends.

Maybe we should stop shaming gamers and labelling all of them as addicts. Let’s at least try.

Written by:


Sofiia Didenko


Denia, Spain

Born in 2007 in Kyiv, Sofiia studies in Benitachell, Spain. She is interested in business studies, particularly marketing and plans to study at Geneva Business School in Barcelona. For Harbingers’ Magazine, she writes about gaming and books.

In her free time, Sofiia enjoys video games, reads dystopian fiction, and spends time with her dog. She also was a part of a debating team in Ukraine and won the best speaker award at the Dnipro Open Debating Tournament in 2022.

Sofiia speaks Ukrainian, English, Russian, French, and a bit of Spanish.

Edited by:


Christian Yeung

Society editor

Hong Kong | United States


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