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How Tetris Can Help with Stress and Anxiety

Jeff Franklin

Last Updated by: Jeff Franklin

Many of us were avid games as kids, but as time went on, gaming slowly started taking a backseat in our day-to-day lives. What people tend to forget is how much playing games help us destress.

The global pandemic was a tough time for everyone. And while it might be coming to an end, a lot of people are still dealing with the anxiety-inducing aftereffects of spending most of their time at home isolated and worried.

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Going back to one of our favorite childhood activities is a proven way to bring some semblance of balance to our lives and reduce all the worries that have accumulated throughout the last couple of years.

Tetris Gives You a Sense of Organization

One of the most beloved childhood games for multiple generations is Tetris. The game allows us to organize pieces into rows and get points for successfully doing so – this can be seen as a metaphor for what we try to do in our lives. You have to arrange random pieces in a way that will make them leave the screen, with them coming at you faster and faster. It’s almost as if the uncertainty that you face in Tetris is a safe way to practice arranging your own life in the real world.

According to research conducted by mental health specialists, video games are a way for perennial overthinkers to distract their minds and take a temporary break from stress.

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A Sense of Flow

While dedicated games might be familiar with the term “flow,” most people might see this as a foreign concept. Flow can only be described as a state of Zen that you achieve while getting absorbed by an engaging task, with it being most commonly associated with gaming and sports. By getting engaged in a challenging activity, your brain focuses on completing it successfully, thus forgetting about any other stressful thoughts. You also receive a sense of accomplishment whenever you manage to achieve a successful performance.

The uncertainty that is an essential piece of Tetris can be seen as a safe way to practice living in our consistently shifting reality. As you play, you will start thinking about how each piece will fit into your grid before it even lands, which gives you a sense of preparation and helps you think ahead.

A Helpful Distraction

Whenever we’re stressed, anxious, or depressed, we have limited cognitive resources. Games like Tetris and Pac-Man have low cognitive demands and provide you with an easy distraction.

Regardless of how old we are, games like Tetris are proven to help with relaxation. Once the pieces start falling faster and faster, you get into a state of “flow,” and your performance gives you a dopamine rush. While the game might start feeling chaotic in the latter levels, this type of chaos doesn’t give you the same anxiety that real-life issues do. Focusing on the game can instead give you a quick distraction that will make you stop overthinking and help you get out of your head.

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There are many other proven ways to distract yourself – a book, a movie, going out. It doesn’t hurt to have another alternative, though, with Tetris and other similar games offering a different approach to destressing and not focusing on your worries.

Is Tetris the Only Game That Helps?

Tetris is a childhood classic, which is why many people find it relaxing. It isn’t the only game that can help with your anxiety – you can experiment will all your favorite childhood games or games that you find interesting now. You can set some specific goals while playing and reflect on your performance as you play – this will give you a sense of enjoyment and drive you to perform better. Once your performance matches your goals, you will feel a sense of relief.

You can try out many other childhood classics like Pac-Man, Bubble Shooter, and others. The more games you find that you enjoy, the more opportunities for destressing.

PlayOrDown features a variety of classic games, including Tetris, Pac-Man, and Bubble Shooter. If you want to play the classic versions of the game or more modern iterations, you can check them out on our site. All the games are free-to-play and don’t require you to download them!


Last Updated by: Jeff Franklin

He no longer lives in his mom’s basement, but Jeff still manages to play online games whenever he has a free minute.


Last Updated by: Jeff Franklin

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