Although virtual reality has only been available to the everyday consumer for a few years now, the technology has progressed by leaps and bounds in terms of actually reaching a believable level of reality–one that we might expect to see in video games and movies.
Even though VR is being marketed as an entertainment system, it is proving useful in treating mental health issues such as anxiety. Here are four ways we can benefit from VR outside of simple entertainment.
Meditation and Mindfulness: University College London did a study that demonstrates the significant benefits of 10 to 20 minutes of daily mindful meditation. For those of us that struggle to quiet our minds and sit silently with our breath, VR offers a great alternative. With VR you can choose from a variety of calming scenes; you can even sit underwater and admire a vast array of fish darting through the coral without having to go up for air. By focusing on your breathing while your eyes have enough passive stimulation to keep you from fidgeting, VR can allow you to reap the rewards of your mindfulness practice.
Armchair Travel: It’s no surprise that many of us are struggling without the freedom that travels often allows. Being stuck at home can leave us feeling stagnant and bored, but with the help of VR, we can wander through Mayan ruins, visit famous museums, and “fly” above impressive landscapes all over the globe. With VR, you can address feelings of nostalgia by, for example, visiting your childhood neighborhood or wherever you spent summers with your family. Being able to see these places can bring a sense of comfort and familiarity in uncertain times.
Socialization: The pandemic has made us more dependent on the Internet and on our devices to maintain our social lives. But let’s face it. Zoom and facetime come across as a little… flat. Rec Room is VR’s antidote to our socially distant reality. Rec Room is more like a destination where people spend time with friends and family rather than a social platform. You can elect to share a quiet game of darts or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can go on extensive quests as a group.
Fitness: VR can require us to partake in actual physical movement, so it’s easy to see how it can easily become part of our fitness routines. Beat Saber and Thrill of the Fight are both popular activities that will have you sweating in no time and are so much more dynamic than sitting on a stationary bike or running on a treadmill.
By Ivar Laanen for The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News