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Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor

Playing Tetris May Help Ease Your Stress, Study Says

We’ll try just about anything to help with all that pregnancy anxiety.
PUBLISHED ON 11/05/2018

Game on!

Whether it’s the countless visits to doctors or the perpetual waiting game for test results to come in, your pregnancy can be a bit stressful at times. But there’s an easy—and fun—way for you to ease some anxiety. Just play a game of Tetris, according to a recent study.

Psychologist Kate Sweeny says the classic game of fitting pieces together to build lines helps us get through stressful periods by taking us to a “blissfully engrossed” state of mind. Which sounds like just the right mental state to be in when you’re waiting in a doctor’s office, prepping for your annual ob-gyn check-ups or have your phone glued to your hand anticipating a call from your doctor.

For the study, Sweeny gathered more than 300 students and told them their peers would be evaluating how attractive they were. "I know, it's kind of cruel, but we found it's a really effective way to get people stressed out," she says. While the participants awaited their results, the researchers had them play Tetris.

Some played a slow, easy version of the game, which bored them. Others tried an extremely challenging version, which frustrated them. And everyone else played the classic version, which adapts to each player's skill level and gets them into that “blissfully engrossed” mentality.

While everyone experienced some degree of worry, the third group reported slightly higher levels of positive emotions and slightly lower levels of negative emotions.

"It wasn't a huge difference, but we think it's noticeable," Sweeny says. "And over time, it can add up."

The results follow a growing collection of research showing regular doses of “blissfully engrossed” tasks can boost our mood and help us manage stress. And although playing Tetris is one way to help achieve this zen, screen time isn’t the only method. Experts say you can take part in almost any activity which has the power to grab your attention and keep you engaged.

And when all else fails, here are 11 ways to de-stress during pregnancy.