Four facts about how gaming helps you relax

You know what it's like. You've been slogging away at the office and all you want to do is go home and have some time for yourself to relax with a little online casino or the latest Call of Wotsit 12.

For National Stress Awareness Day, we surveyed 500 UK adults to find out what role gaming plays in relaxation. Here are four interesting facts that we weren't expecting about the population's habits around games and relaxation.

4. Everyone - and their mums - are playing computer games

Do you remember in the eighties and nineties when admitting to playing video games was the least rad thing you could tell someone? They would always assume that you lived in your mum's dank basement with only your Baywatch posters to keep you company.

But now, in complete contrast, the majority of people in the UK play computer games in some form or another. 68% said they dabbled in a bit of button bashing fun and women are almost as likely as men to play games (64% versus 72% respectably). Heck, 62% of over 55s are gaming – showing that an older generation love to get involved with a game too, even if it's just on a Kindle Fire.

You can pin the reasons for this firmly on both the ‘Wii' factor, a console that brought generations together for control-waggling fun, and mobile apps, which have made it easier for most people to play games – wherever, whenever.

But what games are people playing to relax?

3. Candy Crush is relaxation gold

Remember how Tetris came to the Game Boy and blew everyone's minds? Nowadays we have developers making games like Tetris, only a bajillion times more addictive, which is why 58% of people unwind to puzzle games.

This totally makes sense. Since 1913 when the first crossword was created, people have been letting their hair down with word puzzles and brainteasers and weirdly, it's the games that require the most brainwork are actually the best for relaxation!

However, when you look at the genders, 47% of men said they are most likely to relax with a sports game like FIFA or Madden NFL, while 73% of women are firmly in the puzzler camp, kicking back with Candy Crush or Fez.

So if you're looking to let your hair down after a tough day behind a desk or dealing with difficult customers, playing some online roulette, Pro Evo or Bejewelled might be the solution.

2. Games are a super important way for people to relax

Traditionally, people have opted for a nice hot bath or flopping in front of the box, but games have become an increasingly important part of our relaxation regimes.

Half of people surveyed said that playing games is an important way to unwind and only 11% said that gaming was totally trivial when it came to relaxation. Could we be seeing a revolution in the way people unwind? Are more people turning to the gamepad instead of the remote control?

Very possibly. In fact, a quarter of all people surveyed said that gaming is one of the most relaxing activities they do, with a third of men (32%) and a fifth of women (19%) in agreement.

In fact, researchers from Oxford University found that certain games can help reduce flashbacks from post-traumatic stress disorder. That's definitely not something to sniff at.

1. Gamers think more people can benefit from playing games

Gamers know full-well that computer games are awesome and those who play games to relax want to spread the word about their stress-relieving advantages. Nearly a third (31%) of people surveyed said that they think non-gamers would benefit from picking up the joystick every once in a while and going a few rounds on Mortal Kombat X or Bejeweled.

This goes against the relatively recent media outcry about computer games making people violent or depressed. Psychologists even say that games have a positive impact on cognitive growth.

So, you heard it here first – get playing more games, guys!