Every person experiences stress sometime in their life. Stress can come in many forms, whether the problem is real or perceived. People have developed lots of ways to combat stress, from sensory deprivation to working out. For me, a major source of de-stressing is gaming. In a study performed by Real Networks, researchers measured the effects of “casual gaming” on stress. Their findings are what you might think: games relieve stress. They defined casual games as “non-violent games that are simple to learn and difficult to master, and categorized as games that players can leave and pick up again easily.” This applies to many, but not all, board games I’ve played. Below are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years when it comes to playing board games as a destresser.
Adjust your Approach
The most important part of destressing with games is coming at them in a relaxed manner. Are you bent on winning? Is the perfect game always on your mind? Gaming as relaxation may not be for you then. If you answered “no” above, then games can be a great source of relaxation. Games are a way to enter into a world that doesn’t exist and do things you couldn’t do in real life. It’s a fantasy – even if it is realistic. It is a release from actual cares. If that is your mentality going in, it will help.
Vary your Play
Rather than coming at a game attempting to have the best possible strategy, adjust your play to try different things. Some games allow for this more than others. Again, it has to do with your original approach to the game, but if winning is the main goal of the game, then trying alternate strategies could be a great way of exploring the game. There are few more relaxing activities that playing through the many facets of a deep board game.
Choose Your Group Wisely
When playing games this way, it is important to make sure your group understands the low-stress environment. In many groups, this is likely unspoken. Every group has their try-hard types, but most groups are able to tame them by example. If there are those who must win at all costs and will make your experience less than fun, play with someone else. There are times to play for keeps, and there are times to play for relaxation. If you’re like me, the latter is always true.