Having a Stressful Day? Play It Away

Having a Stressful Day? Play It Away

Sketchin office” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by lucamascaro

There are of course times, when nothing work-related bothers you –  water off a duck’s back, you think to yourself as you survey the office. You are the very model of calm efficiency. Or something like that. But we all have bad days at work sooner or later.

The universe can’t tick over smoothly all the time though, and sure enough events conspire to trip us up and remind us just how terribly small a cog we are in the whole bewildering process. In fact, at times like these, it would stress you out just reading a list of things that stress you out.

That’s a vicious little circle, right there, busy chipping away at your self-esteem- but there are some very fun ways to break out of it. All you have to do is learn how to relax.

And that’s where games come in to their own.

Any game will do the trick

It doesn’t seem to matter which flavour of game, either.

Whether it’s a traditional board game like chess or scrabble, a computer game, console game, a bag of knucklebone dice in a cloth bag, online hack-and-slash RPGs, or the simple joy of spinning a virtual wheel on a mobile app, stress levels dip as body and mind relax into the rhythms of the rule-set.

Roulette makes a great case in point – the spinning wheel is hypnotic, the breath is held back as the little ball rattles and jumps from one division to the next before fortune picks a final destination. Did you wager on red or black? Were you waiting for a specific number to come up? Were you playing a computer simulation or did you opt for a live game, with a video link to a live casino where a real croupier awaits your wager? If you don’t believe me, pick a game and see for yourself. Whichever your preference, your body and mind will love you for slipping free of your day-to-day cares and settling into the grooves of the game.

I haven’t got time, I hear you say

It’s not about time, or at least not on the scale you think it is. Even a couple of minutes playing a game is more beneficial to your wellbeing than not playing it at all.

We’ve always been gaming as a species, so there’s probably a very good reason why games exist. It would seem they are as much a mark of human civilisation as whittled axe heads and paintings daubed upon cave walls. And they turn up nearly as early, too. The oldest game pieces unearthed thus far were discovered beneath a 5000-year-old burial mound in south-east Turkey, but then evidence for games can be found scattered throughout ancient Egypt and Syria by around 3000 BC. From the Eastern cultural hubs, games spread by word of mouth and trading links until they were prevalent in cultures throughout the world.

And some of the earliest came imbued with spiritual significance. An ancient, Babylonian treatise on the subject of gaming talks about the Game of Twenty Squares, also known as the Royal Game of Ur, with an ornately decorative board, knucklebone dice and twenty pawns. Interestingly, this game doubled as a divinatory instrument in addition to being a pastime.

It would be the height of modern foolishness to suggest that playing games can help you to predict the future, but perhaps it wouldn’t be going too far to say that your future will look a and feel a lot rosier if there happens to be some gameplay in the mix somewhere.

Gaming rigs – home” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by driph

Thinking about it, there is something of a trance-like state to a person deeply absorbed in a game. Be that game a Sudoku puzzled over at a corner table during a quiet coffee break, or a full-on stealth-based WW2 killfest like Sniper Elite 4 played at full blast on a games console in your living room, the face of the player is the face of a human who has succeeded in getting out of their muddled head space, just long enough to start enjoying themselves.

And that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

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