Coping Strategy #3: Lumosity games!

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My aha! moment – the first time I played a memory game on Lumosity while trying to be conscious of my anxiety.

I’ve been playing Lumosity games for the last year or so on my iPhone. The premise of the games on the app is to improve your cognitive functioning through games. 

I’m not big on app games, but I gave Lumosity a shot and ended up sticking with it. Only recently did I realize that I could use it as a tool to monitor my anxiety and maybe even to calm myself down – all while improving my memory/attention/problem solving skills, etc.

I will try to describe a few of the ways this works for me, but you may want to try it out for yourself.

First – anxiety is known to impair memory: http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/memory-problems

Well, my weakest area of thinking has definitely and consistently been memory.

Lumosity games can be pretty addictive, and you are encouraged to play daily. So play I did, and I began to grab for it in the morning before getting out of bed. I’ve absolutely noticed my memory score drop as anxiety was increased. My score dropping with increased anxiety I believe happened to some extent across all areas (attention, speed, memory, problem solving, flexibility). Some days, scattered panicky musings on what exactly I was feeling that prevented me emerging from my lair became clear – my memory score has reached rock bottom and this game is making me supremely twitchy. I realized that my anxiety was through the roof. So, perhaps the gym, a nap, a snack or meditation was in order.

Can Lumosity actually improve anxiety? Research by the Human Cognition Project, that is, human brain research using data collected by Lumosity from its users’ usage of their games, suggests that it can, among other emotional disorders.
Lumosity training holds promise for emotional regulation

I researched this because I found a quick-and-dirty way to calm myself a bit. I play one of these games, and as I begin to panic, I practice slowing down my speedy fingers, allowing myself to be sure before clicking on an answer (in the case of Memory Matrix, before shading in a square. Allowing myself that extra split second that I need (and then trusting my gut instead of my tricksy, doubt-prone anxiety which tells me, “you’re never right! And you’re going too slow!”) for me, is a great relief.

Every strategy to improve mood is a tool in your toolbox, therapists will tell you.

I’ll take it.

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