Play Through Stress and Anxiety

Play Through Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand. 

Actually, they're so closely related it's kind of a "chicken or the egg" situation; does stress cause anxiety, or does anxiety make you stressed?

Stress is a response to pressure, and anxiety is often a response to stress, but being anxious can also be the trigger to stress.

The loop goes on and on and could easily be cut on either end.

But, wherever it starts, the resolution might be much more straightforward.

Today we're taking a look at how you might be able to play through stress and anxiety.

Available Anxiety Counselors

What is Stress? Anxiety?

However fun it would be to jump right into play, it's important to know what stress and anxiety are in order to understand how play can help.

As mentioned above, stress is a response to pressure; whether it's family obligations, work deadlines, or literal pressure from moving furniture for your in-laws, it's all stress and it's all pressure.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a persistent concern in regard to the future.

Both stress and anxiety present in nearly identical ways: poor sleep, headaches, muscle tension, increased heart rate, and feeling "on edge."

Stress and anxiety are completely normal and even healthy responses to life's circumstances.

They increase our awareness of potential threats, get us moving, and push us toward resolutions.

When things go wrong is when we can't get our bodies out of that stress and anxiety.

And that is where play comes in.

The Power of Play

Play is one of the most powerful activities a living thing can engage in.

Yes, ANY living thing (plants, unsure)- animals and humans alike need play in order to develop into healthy well-adapted beings.

Unfortunately, as we get older the idea of play becomes silly until it disappears almost altogether.  

Around the time of adolescence, teens become too "cool" to play as their interests shift and develop.

By adulthood, play means weekends of partying (NOT THE SAME).

If you're fortunate and have children who love to play, then you have a second round of play until they too enter adolescence, but even that isn't enough.

Play is the anti-stress or anti-anxiety.

It works in the complete opposite of stress and anxiety and actually makes it impossible to be stressed while you're in play.

Simply put, play is the experience and engagement with joy.  

Joy is the experience of serotonin and dopamine that gets released when you're spending time doing something you love with people you love. 

The simple act of playing has been proven to decrease the intensity of stress and anxiety.

But, how do you play?

How to Start Playing

Something that was once so natural becomes a puzzle, how do you play?

Kids have the advantage of looking at the world through an imaginative lens.

They see objects for what they could be, not what they are.

But, that doesn't mean adults are doomed.

It just means you need to get creative.

For the more daring individuals, things like Live Action Role Playing is the ultimate adult imagination thrill ride.

It provides community, imagination, action, and novelty. 

But in case that's not in your lane (yet) here are some things to consider:

1) What brought you joy as a kid?

2) What kinds of games did you enjoy growing up?

3) What is something that always looked fun but you never tried?

4) Search for lists of hobbies and pick one to try out.

5) Go to the store and look through their board games and see if one jumps out at you.

Above all else, TRY!


Stress and anxiety plague millions of people all around the world.

Though they are natural, they can easily get out of hand and start controlling your whole world.

Fight back, play!

Revisit your childhood, game shop, as your friends, just try!

Play is about connecting to joy.

Joy comes most easily when you are participating in something engaging with others that you feel affectionately towards.

Eliminate stress and anxiety, go play!

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March 25th, 2023

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