I fight my panic disorder by mowing virtual lawns


Mowing generates by far the most reports of players with truly positive mental health experiences, ”Loades said. “We had very touching feedback. 2020 has been a stressful year, so there were a lot of people playing to relax, but also frontline workers playing to help deal with the stress of the pandemic and even people playing to help with grief. dying loved ones. It’s extremely gratifying for us as developers to get that kind of feedback, and it wasn’t much of an issue with our previous games. “

The game was designed to create a zen state, Loades says, noting that he’s especially proud of digital grass and the way it moves in the virtual wind. They wanted to tap into that sense of satisfaction you get from taking something messy (in this case, grass that’s too long) and turning it into something neat and tidy. Plus, you can’t lose. You can’t make wrong turns, damage the lawn, or break your lawn mower. It’s not difficult. It’s just a quiet distraction from life.

For me in particular, the game is very useful because it deviates from the normal minutiae of my day. I live in the city and don’t have to worry about mowing a lawn – in fact, the lack of yard maintenance is one of the main reasons I chose to live in a three apartment. It might seem strange that doing something virtually that I intentionally avoid in real life relieves my anxiety, but there is a good explanation behind it.

“Imagery can be a powerful tool in changing emotions,” says the University of Massachusetts Memorial psychologist. Pooja saraff. “We often imagine a relaxing place in our mind to escape the daily troubles, and for a city dweller, imagining a green lawn can have just that effect. By simply creating a peaceful landscape in your mind, especially a green one, you can feel closer to nature which helps calm nerves. Plus, the app is especially valuable if it mimics an experience that isn’t available to you in real life or all the time – think the city, the winter, or work. Engaging in an activity that is not part of your normal day can be calming because it is new, generates interest, engages you more, and helps distract from worries. “

I wonder, however, would mowing a lawn have the same effect? I haven’t mowed one in years, and honestly I can’t remember if I liked it or not. Unless I asked my dad to let me mow his lawn, I asked Jackman and Saraff. They both believe it would have the same calming effect. I would be outside and be exercising, things that already improve moods. I would also have a sense of accomplishment, just like in “those movies where the dad is out there mowing on Sunday, doing the lines just,” Jackman said. It would literally be just mowing, in full immersion. That being said, I’m just the right amount of lazy so I don’t jump on the lawn mower at my parents’ house, so instead I’ll keep using the game.

However, there are potential pitfalls in using the app for anxiety. Jackman and Saraff both note that it could become an unhealthy coping mechanism for me if I become unable to deal with my anxiety without her. Addiction to just one aspect of anxiety relief, they say, is a problem in itself. Also, I might just lose interest in the app. While I currently can’t imagine a world where I don’t spend time cutting the virtual lawns of my virtual neighbors, having enough is a very real possibility.

At least I know that if Just mow loses its novelty and stops helping me, I would probably be very happy to start a side activity mowing real lawns in the suburbs. Ah, the things we do for calm.


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