Is Chess a Relaxing Game? –

is chess a relaxing game

Chess is one of those games that people tend to have strong opinions about. Some see it as an intellectual challenge that exercises the mind, while others dismiss it as boring. If you fall into the latter camp, you may be surprised to learn that chess can actually be quite relaxing. Yes, really. Now before you roll your eyes, hear me out.

While chess does require focus and mental effort, it can also have a calming, meditative effect. The repetitive movements, the soft clacking of pieces on the board, the systematic solving of problems—it all works together to quiet the mind and alleviate stress. The limited choices and constrained parameters provide a sense of control that many find soothing. Of course, relaxation is subjective and depends a lot on your mindset. But if you go into a game of chess with the intention of using it as a relaxing escape, you may just find your opinion of the game beginning to change.

The Mental Focus Required for Chess

Chess requires serious mental focus and concentration. To play a proper game of chess, you have to give the board your full attention.

It’s not the kind of game you can casually play while chatting with friends or binge-watching your favorite TV show.

Once you start a game, you need to visualize the possible moves in your head, think through different strategies, and try to anticipate your opponent’s plays. This level of mental exertion can be draining for some, but stimulating for others.

If you’re looking to unwind and de-stress, chess may not be the ideal activity. The competitive nature of the game and the cognitive effort involved can actually raise your anxiety and blood pressure. However, if you enjoy challenging your brain with complex problem-solving, the mental challenge of chess could be a form of relaxation and rejuvenation for you.

Some tips to make your chess games more relaxing:

  1. Play at your own pace. Don’t use a clock timer when you’re first learning. Take time to think through each move.
  2. Focus on enjoying the game rather than winning. Appreciate a good move by your opponent and learn from your mistakes.
  3. Play casually with a friend. A casual game with someone at your skill level in a low-pressure setting can be a great chance to relax and have fun.
  4. Take breaks when needed. If at any point you feel overwhelmed, frustrated or no longer enjoying yourself, take a break from the game. Your mental health and happiness should be the priority.

While chess may require brain power, that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t also be a calming and recreational activity, depending on your mindset and motivations for playing.

The Stress of Competition in Chess

Chess can be an extremely stressful game, especially when playing competitively.

The pressure to win and advance in rankings can take a major mental toll. Every move matters and even small mistakes can cost you the game. The constant strategizing and trying to outthink your opponent requires intense focus and can drain your mental energy.

Some players get severe anxiety before and during competitive matches. The desire to improve and progress to higher skill levels also brings a level of stress. The more you care about your performance and rating, the more stressful serious play becomes.

Losing streaks or dropping in rankings can also damage confidence and morale, adding to the overall stress. The stress may even cause physical symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating, and stomach issues for some players.

Of course, the level of stress depends on your mindset and how seriously you take the game. If you maintain an attitude of learning and growth rather than pure competition, chess can still be an enjoyable pastime. Focusing on each move as an opportunity to improve and learn new strategies helps take the emphasis off winning or losing.

Playing for leisure in casual games with friends or doing chess puzzles and problems for fun is far less taxing. At the end of the day, chess is meant to be an intellectual challenge and brain teaser. Try not to let the competitive aspects overwhelm the enjoyment of the game itself.

Finding Joy and Relaxation in Chess Strategy

Chess can be a mentally stimulating game, but many find it relaxing as well. Here are a few ways to unwind while plotting your strategy:

Focus on the journey, not the destination.

Don’t worry so much about winning or losing. Enjoy the process of planning your moves and seeing how the game unfolds. Each move creates a new puzzle to solve. Finding joy in the incremental progress will help you relax into the game.

Start with the end in mind.

Having a broad strategy in place gives you direction so you can make instinctive moves without overthinking each one. Decide if you want to control the center, attack the king, or gain more mobility. With a guiding strategy, you can play more spontaneously.

Take deep breaths.

It’s easy to get tense when the game intensifies. Take some deep, slow breaths to help lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Oxygenating your body and mind will help you stay calmer and make wiser moves.

Stand up and move around.

If you start to feel stressed during the game, stand up and move your body. Do some light exercises like walking in place, gentle yoga stretches, or shoulder rolls. Physical movement generates endorphins that improve your mood and refresh your mind. You’ll return to the board feeling recharged and re-focused.

Approaching your chess games with the right mindset can help transform a mentally taxing activity into a relaxing, rejuvenating one. Don’t worry about the outcome, set a broad strategy, breathe deep, and take movement breaks when needed. Your leisurely chess matches will become an opportunity to unwind in your mind and body.


So there you have it, chess can be a relaxing game for some but stressful for others. At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preferences and playing style. If you’re the type of person who enjoys mental challenges and the thrill of strategic thinking, chess can be a great way to unwind and escape from your every day worries. The key is finding the right balance – start with shorter games, limit the time controls, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake. Learn to appreciate the beauty in each move and find enjoyment in the journey, not just the outcome. With the right mindset, chess can be the perfect combination of excitement and tranquility. Give it a shot – you might just discover an unexpected source of calm in the most unlikely of places.

Was this helpful? Share it with a friend :)
Follow ChessForSharks on social media
  • 7 Reasons You Lose Your Chess Games

    This is just placeholder text. It's just here to fill up space until we have real copy.

    I am a button
  • join the conversation

    Leave the first comment

    Work With Us

    We help chess brands create engaging and converting content
    We help innovative Chess brands and influencers create content that sparks engagement and drives revenue
    Content WritingContent PromotionContent StrategyContent Optimization

    Subscribe to our Newsletter

    Google reCaptcha: Invalid site key.

    Call to action

    You may also like...

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

    Get notified once the ebook is live

    * indicates required