by MFLN Military Caregiving Concentration contributor, Alicia Cassels, MA.
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. -Mayo Clinic
Imagine your friends laughing as they cheer you on in the heat of the game. Suddenly, you get the break that you need, and you prevail for the second time in the evening! Your friends look crushed in taking the loss. -Just as you had imagined. You laugh and give them the type of good-natured ribbing they have come to expect. Sounds fun, right? With a little creativity, you can enjoy game nights with friends, even while you are physically apart.
Finding Laughter During Times of Social Distancing
Laughter is not just a good idea; it offers tangible physical and mental health advantages. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can cool down the stress response, help decrease blood pressure, and soothe tension. During this period of physical separation, we are reminded in countless ways that social connection and laughter are not just good ideas, they are human needs. Relationships and laughter serve as potent health and wellness instruments. Beyond the above mentioned short-term outcomes, significant long-term benefits are associated with laughter. A few of these benefits include improving the immune system, relieving pain, and increasing personal satisfaction. To learn more, read the Mayo Clinic article.
The Possibilities are Endless
While we are social distancing, virtual game nights (or game days) can serve as excellent vehicles for laughter and connection. With little more than imagination and a cell phone, many games can be adapted for play at a distance. For example, team trivia can be played live through video conferencing with essentially no alteration. Bingo is another game that requires very little adjustment for play across miles and walls. Instead of competing in the same physical space, everyone in the group simply connects through a video conferencing platform. One person calls out bingo numbers at random from a basket (a set of bingo balls can be used, or the letter/number items normally on bingo balls can be written on slips of paper). The rest of the group plays, as usual, marking their bingo cards as the numbers are called. In terms of supplies, free bingo cards can be accessed online. A quick internet search will reveal a myriad of options. If you are not yet connecting through an online conferencing tool, many are free and easy to use. This information from Harvard Health Publishing, may help you identify a suitable platform.
Not interested in trivia or bingo? No worries! Almost any game can be altered for play in a virtual format. Join forces with friends to establish options and rules in modifying your favorite games. With a little inventiveness, you can host an afternoon or evening game date with friends. Win or lose, you will find a lot to celebrate as you enjoy the many benefits associated with laughter.
Inspired to Host a Virtual Game Night with Friends?
Below are a few steps to help you get started:
- Select a favorite game or games.
- Collaborate with friends to develop adaptations (if required), and rules of play to fit an online environment.
- Distribute roles.
- Identify the day, time, and virtual conferencing platform that will work best for you and the members of your group.
- Schedule your virtual session and send electronic calendar invitations with meeting links to the members of your group.
- Connect with friends at the appointed day and time, and let the games begin!
Connect with Us
Share your experiences and ideas for a virtual game night in the comments section below.
Even While Social Distancing, You are Not Alone
If you experience overwhelming loneliness or severely depressed mood, help is available. Reach out to your medical provider. If you are experiencing suicidal or troubling thoughts contact the suicide prevention hotline. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255)