Does Chess Relieve Stress? 5 Ways It Can Alleviate Stress

Chess Guides / By Andrew Hercules

Mental Health is a very sensitive topic. Many people suffer privately while others do not recognize the danger they are in. Medical experts recommend that you should always keep your mind engaged with activities such as playing mental games.

When it comes to games that test your mind, chess has to be up there. Even though some people consider it passé, chess is a board game played all over the world.

Moreover, nobody can doubt its ability to engage the human mind. Here, we answer some tough questions about the game’s ability to relieve stress. Does chess relieve stress? Does it worsen the situation? Find out below.

Does Chess Relieve Stress?

Yes, chess can help you relieve stress. It engages your mind throughout the game. A regular game takes a standard time of 90 minutes (or less) to complete. Throughout the game, you will be thinking about your opponent’s next move and where you will move your pieces.

Nobody likes to feel pain or stress when doing anything. If chess was stressful, nobody would have ever wanted to take part in it willingly.

How Chess Relieves Stress

Stress is usually a result of your mind overthinking. In most cases, the things that stress humans are things that we cannot control. Playing chess can help you when you are stressed in the following ways:

1. It engages your mind

Research conducted by the Albert Einstein College showed that playing chess can help you relieve stress and anxiety. When you play chess and you are immersed fully, you think about nothing but the game. You think about your next move, you try to be one step ahead of your opponent. You forget everything that may be happening in your life and your brain relaxes. During the entire game time, you are stress free and in perfect mental health.

2. Winning a Game of Chess Makes You Happy

Imagine playing against your biggest rival and winning the game! Isn’t that great pleasure? If you are a pro in playing chess, you can derive happiness from beating your opponents. Actually, chess can be your go-to game whenever you feel like clearing your mind.

3. Chess Can Help Cure Some Diseases

Diseases can cause a lot of stress both for the affected and the infected persons. Medical experts have ascertained that playing chess can help cure disorders such as Schizophrenia, ADHD, Alzheimer and panic attacks. Playing chess regularly allows your brain to relax and think about solutions to the challenges and situations presented by the game.

4. The Game Teaches Patience

Chess is a game of waiting. You have to wait for a mistake then you can pounce. According to numerous studies that have been conducted, chess teaches the virtue of patience. In the grandmasters, the ability to wait and be calm wins you the game halfway.

With a calm mind, you can work a strategy and make your next move after analyzing the opponent. In the same way, patience can help you figure out solutions to things that may be stressing you in other aspects of life.

Additionally, the ability to keep calm even when there is a lot of pressure regulates the release of adrenaline into your system. When you can control your behavior, it is very hard to be stressed about anything.

There have been real life situations where too aggressive students have been calmed down using chess. The ability to stay in one place and concentrate has allowed mentors to bring up calmer individuals in the society.

5. Chess Stimulates Key Parts of the Brain

Study shows that chess stimulates up to six cognitive areas of the brain. These parts include the short term memory, long term memory, calculation, visual-spatial, critical thinking and language. This means that if any of these cognitive parts is responsible for your stress, you can easily kill it by playing chess.

Playing chess can prevent depression. If you are worried about something, taking part in a game of chess can help you focus, stimulate some cognitive areas of your brain, and you will be “alive” again.

The Other Side of the Coin – How Chess Makes You Feel Worse

There are two sides of a coin. When playing chess, it is possible that it can worsen the situation. Check out the following scenarios:

1. Losing the Game Makes it Worse

Imagine being stressed over some other issues and you resort to playing chess with a friend and you lose! The stress would be double. It is worse if you go out knowing that your opponent capitalized on a mistake that on a good day, you wouldn’t have made. It is fair to say that chess can only relieve your stress if you at least go on and win a game.

2. It is Stressful When You Don’t Know Your Next Move

Being engaged is fun. However, if you can’t figure out your next move in chess it can take a toll on you. Chess is a game of moves.

That means your opponent will always be waiting for you to make your move so he can make his. The pressure can be too much at times especially when your opponent seems to have his next moves figured out while you haven’t. In the end, you leave the table feeling twice as stressed.


Chess is a very popular game played all over the world. The game has been here for centuries and it continues to engage players in different capacities. The never-ending debate as to whether playing chess can help relieve stress continues. We figured out that stress can improve your mental health.

When you play, you are engaged fully and you forget everything going on in your life. The game can also open your mind and allow you to view things in different perspectives.

In most cases, you get to solve the problems that stress you in a calm way. However, chess can only relieve your stress if you win the game. Otherwise, if you are struggling, you might leave the table more stressed than you came in.

Andrew Hercules

Hercules Chess, launched in 2020, is a website that teaches you about chess. We started as a chess blog and became a chess training platform in early 2022.

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