When Play is Not Relaxing

We took a day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium yesterday, in an attempt to try and get rid of some of the stress that’s been accumulating for the past three weeks. I love the aquarium, and have been a regular visitor for over a decade. My kids are crazy about the place too. The funny thing was though, for my wife, the whole trip was more stressful than relaxing. There are always a lot of people there, and it’s tough to move through such a mass of humanity. We also hit so much road work that it eventually just became a joke. There comes a point in certain activities that are meant to be relaxing where, for whatever reason, the activity becomes the source of more stress.

One example that came up in a conversation with a friend was certain video games like Command and Conquer, that are based on a real-time strategy method of play. According to wikipedia, Real-time strategy games are classified as follows:

Real-time strategy titles do not involve “turns” like turn-based strategy video or board games (such as chess). Rather, game time progresses in “real time”. It is continuous rather than turn-by-turn and all players may interact with the game environment at any time. This is in many cases a very distinct form of play, as mere seconds of distraction could give the enemy an advantage (contrasting to turn-based where the opponent cannot counter until the player is done).

My friend is a master of games like Command and Conquer. He keeps track of everything that’s happening on the map, and upgrades his units while planning attacks and reinforcing his defenses. I, on the other hand, stick at real-time strategy games. I’m excellent at turn-based games, where I can plan and have no worries about something happening during my turn, but real-time strategy games just stress me out. Here is a perfect example of an activity that is relaxing for one person and stressful for another.

Have you ever played a game with people who became so competitive that the game was no longer fun? A situation like that can turn relaxing and fun into stressful and tiresome in a matter of moments. I have some friends that I simply will not play certain games with anymore, because it always ends up being too stressful. Some people thrive on that kind of competition and rivalry, but I am not one of those people. I just want to have a good time while I play. I don’t want the world to end if I get up and go to the bathroom or want a snack. I play to relax, hence the name of this site. Note that this makes reference to my old play2relax site. Wow, Jeff is awesome at choosing names for websites said nobody ever.

Here are some suggestions for keeping the chocolate relaxation out of your stress peanut butter:

  1. Identify what type of games or activities stress you out and avoid them.
  2. Try and anticipate situations where you might get stressed out while playing and come up with a strategy to deal with the problem.
  3. Be honest with yourself and the people you are with about how you are feeling. Let people know that their behavior is causing you stress so that you give them an opportunity to do something about it.
  4. Laugh often. Laughter is a great way to release stress, and we really just don’t laugh enough. Just let it out. Life is pretty funny.

Now if you are one of the “I like chocolate relaxation in my stress peanut butter!” then you just go out and have fun. Just don’t hurt anyone.

1 thought on “When Play is Not Relaxing”

  1. Road trips can be hit or miss… depending on circumstances beyond your control. But I guess if we can truly convince ourselves they are out of our control we will handle the stress 🙂 Anyway, I prefer the social interaction of games, many people like the competition. Maybe a good mix is best. And once a game group realizes what games are fun or competitive you can pull the right game out for the right occasion.


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