Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the last year and a half have been really stressful for pretty much everyone. We have all been dealing with constant changes that are out of our control. People have tried all sorts of things to cope with these new stresses, with many turning to gaming to help them unwind after a long day.
One of the most popular games to unwind with is online poker. This might sound unusual or unexpected, but there are plenty of reasons why poker can be great for helping to deal with stress. Of course, poker isn’t and shouldn’t be treated as a replacement for medication or therapy for those with serious mental health concerns, but it certainly has its benefits.
Learning to Manage Emotions
Successful poker players know how to cope with the highs and lows that come with playing games of chance. Winning one hand doesn’t always translate to success in the following one, while losing a big pot can be followed immediately by winning an even bigger one. These moments all come with different emotions that must be coped with. Rather than ignore their emotions, great poker players allow themselves to feel without making decisions based on the emotions. Accepting these emotions as an unavoidable part of life without letting them dictate our actions is a great tip for handling our mental health even outside of poker.
Set Your Ego Aside
When you set about really studying how to win poker games, you find that a lot of the tips have more to do with mindset than game strategy. Chief among those tips is often the idea of setting ego aside, which can be a very helpful thing to learn how to do. Much of our stresses in life come from the expectations we put upon ourselves. When we learn how to set those expectations aside and live in the moment, we can not only be better poker players but we can also learn to better manage the stress in our lives.
Develop Your Concentration Skills
Poker is a game where every hand is an important learning opportunity. Between calculating odds to trying to figure out your opponent’s tells and strategy, it is vital not to take a hand off or to think too far ahead. That mindfulness and living in the moment is a good way to set aside our own stresses for a moment. Giving yourself permission to focus on the game in its entirety is also a good skill to develop in our day to day lives. Poker offers up ample opportunity to develop that ability in a safe, controlled environment.
You Can Play From Home
For those who have social anxiety, being able to play a largely social game while in the comfort of their own home can be important. Having one’s coping mechanisms and strategies close at hand can give people the confidence to act in ways that they might be too anxious to try. That is why online poker can have such a strong impact on one’s mental health. It allows for playing in a familiar, safe space, reducing stress without adding more stress in the process. Starting with small steps and working toward larger ones is a proven coping strategy for social anxiety.
It Can Put Things Into Perspective
Games are important because they allow us to relax and play without pressure from outside forces. Poker is, at its core, a game of chance, meaning that we can’t completely influence the outcome. Learning to recognize moments that are outside our control and accept them as an inevitable part of life is important for letting go of stress. When we learn to laugh at our moments of bad luck rather than dwell on them for hours, we can live in a more mindful, peaceful way with ourselves. We can spend more time enjoying the games we are playing rather than worry about what could have been instead.