Improve Your Mental Health with Yahtzee
February 5, 2023
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or in crisis, help is available. In the United States, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Playing Yahtzee can improve a person's mental health in several ways. It relieves stress, promotes social interaction, exercises the brain and can boost one's mood. The game requires strategy and quick decision-making, which can improve cognitive function. Additionally, winning a game can increase feelings of accomplishment and self-esteem. Playing Yahtzee with friends or family also provides a sense of connection and can reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation.
Mental health is important for overall well-being and quality of life. It can affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and impact our relationships, work, and daily activities. Good mental health can contribute to increased joy and happiness in a person’s life.
But everyone experiences struggles in day-to-day life that can negatively impact their mental health. Stress and burnout, for example, are increasingly common problems in capitalistic societies that value profit margins above the welfare of its citizens. And these issues are compounded in minority and historically marginalized communities.
But help is available. For instance, playing Yahtzee can help improve mental health by providing an enjoyable social activity. Engaging in leisure activities such as games can distract from stress and worries, and promote relaxation and happiness. Additionally, playing Yahtzee with friends and family can help to build and strengthen social connections, which can have a positive impact on mental health.
Rolling dice is not a cure-all, and seeking professional help is recommended if one is struggling with their mental health. But Yahtzee’s positive impact on individual and societal well-being is an important tool in the quest for happiness and equality.
How to Improve Mental Health with Yahtzee
Beside the pure entertainment value that Yahtzee provides, playing the game can have several benefits for a player's mental health:
Happiness and Sense of Worth
Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities that used to bring joy. It can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, and physical health, making it difficult to carry out daily tasks and engage in activities they once enjoyed. Depression can also lead to feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt, making it challenging to pursue happiness and find fulfillment. In severe cases, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior, making it a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
People who suffer from depression often require professional help in order to overcome it and regain their sense of well-being and happiness. But in less-severe cases, there are other ways to treat depression. Yahtzee, for one, helps to build and strengthen social connections which, according to one of the longest-running studies on human happiness, is one the most important factors for maintaining positive mental health.
Conducted by the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the research finds that healthy relationships with friends, family, and community more closely correlated to long-term happiness than factors such as genetic makeup or temporary forms of instant gratification. According to the project’s director,. Robert Waldinger, “Personal connection creates mental and emotional stimulation, which are automatic mood boosters, while isolation is a mood buster.”
While the social interactions that a game of Yahtzee provide are proven to positively alter mental health, not everyone reacts in the same way. An in-person game may actually have negative consequences for a person suffering from severe social anxiety or agoraphobia. But Yahtzee has long ago evolved beyond the tabletop and a wide variety of electronic options are available for solitaire play or distance gaming. And multi-player online Yahtzee can provide the same benefits of overcoming loneliness and isolation even if you can’t be in the same room as your opponents.
Stress is a normal part of life, but when it becomes chronic, it can have a significant impact on mental health. Chronic stress can trigger the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can interfere with the brain's ability to regulate mood and behavior. As a result, stress can lead to a range of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also worsen symptoms of existing mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In addition to its impact on mental health, chronic stress can also lead to physical health problems, including heart disease, digestive problems, and chronic pain. To reduce the impact of stress on mental health, it's important to engage in stress-management techniques, such as exercise, mindfulness, and relaxation, and to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional when needed.
Yahtzee can be a great way to take a break from daily stressors and relax the mind. A casual game, especially one that results in an awesome high score or other memorable moment, will often lead to an improved mood. A positive Yahtzee experience can release a rush of endorphins, which can improve one's mood and overall sense of well-being.
Stress accumulates on a daily basis but can be worse at certain times of the year. The holiday season, despite its festiveness, commonly increases people’s levels of stress. Thanksgiving and Christmas in particular can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed or rushed. This may be shrugged off as a simple case of the winter doldrums but it may signal something more specific -Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD occurs during specific seasons, most commonly in the winter months. It is characterized by symptoms such as feelings of sadness or hopelessness, decreased energy and motivation, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and social withdrawal. SAD is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including changes in daylight hours and the decreased amount of sunlight during the winter months, which can disrupt the body's natural circadian rhythms and lead to feelings of stress or depression.
Light therapy is a common treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder but other options are available. Fortunately, the holiday season typically associated with SAD also sees a spike a Yahtzee usage. Gathering with friends and family around the gaming table can help to offset the effects of SAD by promoting positive social interactions.
Sexual positivity is an approach to sexuality that emphasizes the importance of healthy, respectful, and consensual sexual experiences. It involves having a positive and accepting attitude towards different forms of sexual expression, promoting a healthy and respectful approach to sexual relationships and experiences, and challenging societal stigmas and negative attitudes towards sex.
It is important to recognize the positive benefits of sexual pleasure, health, and education. This will help an individual to prioritize their own sexual well-being and to make informed decisions about their sexual health and practices. Sexual positivity is about embracing sexuality as a natural and positive aspect of life, and promoting the idea that all consensual sexual experiences can be pleasurable and fulfilling.
Sexual positivity can have a positive effect on a person's mental health. Research suggests that sexual positivity can lead to improved self-esteem, better body image, and reduced anxiety and depression. Additionally, sexual positivity can help individuals feel more comfortable and confident in expressing their sexuality and desires, leading to a more fulfilling and satisfying sexual experience.
Playing Yahtzee has been noted to improve sexual health by acting as an aphrodisiac. The game can have a psychological or emotional impact that enhances players’ sexual desire. The act of playing Yahtzee with a partner or romantic interest creates a fun, relaxed atmosphere that contributes to a feeling of closeness and intimacy, which can in turn increase sexual desire. The game could also trigger positive memories or emotions associated with past experiences, leading to increased feelings of affection and attraction.
However, it is important to note that everyone has their own individual relationship with their sexuality and that what is sexually positive for one person may not be for another. It is crucial to respect individual boundaries and preferences and to engage in sexual practices that are consensual, safe, and respectful to all involved parties. So while Yahtzee can spice things up in the bedroom, it should not be used as a one-size-fits-all approach to sexual positivity.
Focus and Concentration
Despite its inherent qualities of randomness and luck, Yahtzee is a thinking game. Reaching the highest level is a test of mental acumen in which the player must cultivate their brain power. Sound strategic development and tactical decision-making are necessary to reach truly high scores. Playing Yahtzee requires focus and concentration, which can help improve cognitive function and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Increasing one’s focus and concentration through Yahtzee can have several positive impacts on mental health:
- Reduces Stress: Focusing on rolling a great game can help to distract from worries and reduce stress levels. This can have a calming effect on the mind and body, leading to improved mood and overall well-being.
- Boosts Self-Esteem: Accomplishing tasks and goals can boost self-esteem and confidence, which can have a positive impact on mental health.
- Improves Cognitive Function: Regularly exercising focus and concentration through Yahtzee can help to improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
- Increases Productivity: Improved focus and concentration can lead to increased productivity and efficiency, which can reduce feelings of stress and burnout.
- Supports Emotional Regulation: Focusing on the present moment can help to regulate emotions and reduce anxiety and negative thoughts.
Recent research has found that poor environmental conditions can pose a hazard to a gamer’s focus and concentration. The study examined the level of air pollution present during elite tabletop game tournaments and concluded that players were negatively effected. Higher levels of pollution in the air correlated with poorer decision-making and focus. Specifically, the chances that players would make an error - such as scoring a Full House on the first turn - increased by 2.1 percentage points, and the magnitude of those errors increased by 10.8%. The mental health benefits of playing Yahtzee under such conditions would remain constant, but the quality of those games will suffer the consequences.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
People from ethnic minority backgrounds are more commonly affected by mental health issues. This is due to a variety of factors, including inequalities in wealth and living standards, as well as bias, racial prejudice, and lack of access to care:
- Disproportionate stressors: Black people and other minorities are often subjected to chronic stress due to systemic racism, discrimination, and prejudice, which can increase the risk of mental health problems.
- Access to care: Minority populations are less likely to have access to mental health services, due to systemic barriers such as poverty, language barriers, and distrust of the healthcare system.
- Stigma: There is often a significant stigma associated with mental health problems in Black communities, which can prevent people from seeking help.
- Different cultural beliefs and practices: Black people and other minorities may have different cultural beliefs about mental health, which can impact their views on seeking treatment and the types of treatments they prefer.
- Historical trauma: Many minority populations have experienced historical traumas such as slavery, colonialism, and genocide, which can affect their mental health and well-being.
These types of deep-rooted issues require a whole-of-society approach to improve the mental health outcomes in minority populations. A board game is clearly not a panacea to all of society’s ills. Nevertheless, Yahtzee has the potential to promote diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance, which can help combat harmful attitudes and beliefs.
By bringing people together from diverse backgrounds and fostering a sense of community, Yahtzee can help break down barriers and promote understanding between individuals. The social aspect of the game encourages friendly competition and encourages players to interact and connect with each other, regardless of their background or beliefs.
Additionally, Yahtzee's universal appeal and accessibility make it a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, races, and skill levels. This promotes the idea that everyone should have equal opportunities to participate and succeed, and reinforces the concept of equality and fairness.
Yahtzee’s ability to bring people together and promote diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance can play a role in creating a more inclusive and accepting society. By fostering a sense of community and promoting understanding between individuals, Yahtzee can help to challenge harmful attitudes and beliefs, and contribute to the fight against racism and hate. And a more inclusive, just society will help to improve the mental health of all its citizens.
Hasbro, the corporate owner of modern Yahtzee, aims to help level the playing field. It issued the following statement in 2021 to honor Black History Month:
Hasbro’s Black History Month events and initiatives are one part of our ongoing commitment to use our brands, our entertainment and our influence to drive lasting, meaningful change toward a more inclusive and equitable society.
Hasbro further stated in an internal memo to employees that the:
company [is] committed to speaking up and taking action when there are instances of inequity or discrimination in our society and that impact our community. This includes standing up and speaking out to condemn the recent and troubling acts of anti-Asian hate, xenophobia, violence and racism.
In concrete terms, the corporation can deliver on its promises through expanded representation of minority groups in its workforce as well as its games and toys. Fuller representation can help individuals from historically marginalized groups that have been relegated to the lower or peripheral edges of society. People from these groups are often denied full participation in mainstream culture, including economic, social, and political activities.
Marginalized communities include people people of color, LGBTQ+, individuals from a lower socioeconomic status, prisoners, senior citizens, differently-abled people, and many more. Throughout history many people in these communities have been ignored or misrepresented, resulting in severe negative outcomes across many aspects of life – including a degradation of mental health.
While Yahtzee itself does not contain characters that can help to reflect humanity’s diversity, other Hasbro brands do. The company, for example, introduced the first African-American G.I. Joe in 1965. Hasbro’s management team, on the other hand, remains mostly white although recent efforts have led to an increase in the representation of women.
The 2020 appointment of Laurel J. Richie as an independent director to its Board of Directors was touted as a highlight in Hasbro’s efforts of increased diversity and representation. Richie was named one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Business by The Network Journal, awarded Ebony magazine’s Outstanding Women in Award, and named to Ebony’s Power 100 List. She has also been recognized by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the Most Influential African Americans in Sports during her previous tenure with the WNBA, and as one of the Most Influential Black Corporate Directors.
Representation can have a significant impact on mental health in minority comminutes. When people from these communities see themselves represented in media, politics, gaming, and other areas of society, it can help to reduce feelings of isolation and marginalization, and improve their self-esteem and mental health. It is important to promote diverse and accurate representation in all areas of society to support the mental health and well-being of Black people and other minorities.
Too Much of a Good Thing
The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that “the virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom.” Administering too much of a cure, in other words, can exacerbate the very problem you are trying to remedy. Yahtzee can boost your mental health in a variety of ways but, as with anything, moderation is key. Overindulgence in any type of pleasurable activity can lead to addiction, and Yahtzee is no exception.
It is possible to become addicted to Yahtzee or any other form of entertainment or leisure activity. Addiction is a complex issue that can be caused by various factors, such as genetics, environment, and psychological or emotional factors. When a person repeatedly engages in an activity that provides pleasure or relief from stress, the brain can release chemicals like dopamine, which can lead to feelings of pleasure and reward. Over time, the brain may become dependent on these pleasurable feelings and require more frequent engagement in the activity to achieve the same level of reward. Tolerance builds as a result and a person may feel compelled to play Yahtzee even when it interferes with other aspects of their life.
Yahtzee addiction is most common when played electronically. Smartphone overuse and the scourge of social media are well-known problems as they relate to mental health but addiction to Yahtzee apps is a growing concern. One of Yahtzee’s most positive benefits is its ability to foster social connectivity. But an overindulgence in online solitaire gaming can have the opposite effect, resulting in increased feelings of loneliness or isolation. And too much screen time playing Yahtzee online can worsen conditions like depression.
The best technique to lower screen time may vary for each individual, as everyone's habits and needs are unique. However, a commonly effective technique is to set daily usage limits and stick to them using device settings or third-party apps. Creating designated screen-free times, such as before bed or during meal times, can also help to lower overall screen time. Another technique is to engage in activities that do not involve screens, such as exercising, reading, or spending time with friends and family. And of course, playing Yahtzee with other people using real dice can help break the online habit. Finding a balance that works for you may require some experimentation and self-reflection.
An addiction to rolling dice, unfortunately, is not the only negative outcome of improper Yahtzee use. Rules disputes or hurt feelings over losing a game can result in Yahtzee-related crime. Despite its inherent qualities of peace and inclusion, Yahtzee can paradoxically lead to violence. Quarrels, fights, and even murder have been reported as consequences of disagreements over a game of Yahtzee.
Yahtzee for a Brighter Future
Our fast-paced, modern world can have a significant impact on mental health by contributing to feelings of stress, anxiety, social isolation, and depression. The constant stimulation from technology and the pressure to be constantly connected can overwhelm us and the negative effects of social media comparison and exposure to unrealistic images can impact body image and self-esteem. The sedentary lifestyle promoted by excessive screen time can also lead to physical health issues, which can further exacerbate mental health problems. It is important to set boundaries and prioritize self-care, including engaging in activities that promote well-being, to counteract the negative impact of our fast-paced, modern world on mental health. A good old-fashioned game of Yahtzee may be just what the doctor ordered.
Properly administered, Yahtzee can have a positive impact on human health. A Yahtzee cleanse, for example, is a great way to remove harmful toxins from your life through a steady diet of dice-rolling action with friends. In an era where Big Pharma has a stranglehold on healthcare and dictates the use of expensive drugs, using Yahtzee to manage mental health can be an effective alternative. However it is important to note that while playing Yahtzee can have positive effects on mental health, it should not be used as a substitute for seeking professional help if one is struggling.
Yahtzee is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. Dice rollers should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to their mental health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. If you maintain an erection for four hours or more upon playing a game of Yahtzee, you must have just rolled one hell of a game.