Did you ever wish you could be less shy or that you would spend less time worrying about how you’re perceived by others? Maybe you are all too familiar with the way that self-doubts seem to crop up out of nowhere, beyond your control?
While a good deal of stress is caused by worrying about important things like paying the bills or meeting that next deadline at work, recent psychological research has demonstrated that a significant portion of an individual’s stress comes from social anxiety, or the time and energy spent worrying about how one is perceived by others.
People with fewer insecurities seem to have a range of automatic thought processes that make them confident and buffer them from worrying about the possibility of social rejection. Fortunately, even people with low self-esteem can develop these beneficial thought processes that might allow them to gradually become more secure and self-confident.
Since persistent negative thought patterns are learned behaviors, that means that they can be unlearned too. Better yet, the mental retraining doesn’t have to be difficult or boring! Imagine you could play a computer game for five minutes each morning that would help you feel more secure and confident in yourself.
That’s the premise behind Mind Habits, a set of video games based on over a decade of social intelligence research at McGill University by Dr. Mark Baldwin and others. Through repetitive playing, the games train the mind to orient more toward positive aspects of social life and to give less attention to the negative feedback that one encounters—or thinks they are encountering—in daily life.
These video games not only boost self-confidence and naturally reduce the amount of focus given to perceived social slights or criticisms, but they have also been shown to reduce the presence of stress hormones in the people that play them.
In a recent study, Mind Habits recruited 23 employees of a Montreal-based call centre to play one of their games, which involves clicking on the one smiling face among many frowning faces on a screen as quickly as possible. These tests showed an average 17 percent reduction in the stress hormone cortisol compared to a control group that played a similar game but without the smiling faces.
“There are many possible applications for this kind of game,” said Prof. Baldwin, “from helping people cope with the social anxiety of public speaking or meeting new people, to helping athletes concentrate more on their game rather than worrying about performing poorly.”
These award-winning games and their beneficial effects have been written about everywhere from ABC News to the National Review of Medicine. But you don’t have to take our word for it—read more and play a while for free at www.mindhabits.com.