(Last Updated On: November 11, 2023)

Gambling and stress management can be a match made in heaven or a match made in hell, it all depends on how you look at things. 

Blowing off steam with an adrenaline-fuelled night at the casino is great for mental health. All of the worries and stresses of everyday life fade away as the only thing to focus on is the game in front of you. 

However, as all too many players know, using gambling as a form of stress management can turn ugly and it can happen quicker than you could have imagined. The adrenaline, the living in the moment and the huge releases of dopamine from a winning wager can become addictive. 

All of a sudden, it’s no longer an escape from the stress that gambling offers, but a satisfaction to the addiction which offers plenty more stress than before. Regardless, the relationship between gambling and stress management continues to divide groups to this day. 

Either you’re a part of the camp who believes that wagering alleviates stress or you’re a part of the camp who believes it can only lead to addiction and further stresses. So let’s dissect the issue just a little as we ask how gambling and stress management really relate to each other. 

How Gambling and Stress Management Relate to Each Other

Gambling as a relief of stress 

For many, gambling acts as the perfect tool for stress relief, and, providing that they’re wagering within their limits, that’s perfectly okay. 

These days it’s never been easier to wager on sports, dabble in the casino and play poker thanks to the online services offered by a mass of online casinos and sportsbooks. This is both a blessing and a curse as those that fancy a flutter on the go are fully able to, providing that they’ve got themselves a smartphone and an internet connection. 

Players are able to wager from wherever in the world they may be, but that can very quickly lead to 24/7 indulgence. Bettors are able to wager whilst at work, with the family, at social events, whilst commuting, etc. which is great if you’re looking for a harmless wager on your favorite sports team, but a problem when mindlessly spinning the reels of online slots on the bus. 

Everyone needs some sort of method of stress relief that they can turn to in times of difficulty and for many, that method is gambling. Although a controlled night out at the casino or poker night with friends may prove successful, it is a very different beast to playing real money games online and losing track of time. Gambling as a whole should be treated with the respect that it deserves. 

Although some people swear by occasional gambling to blow off steam and relieve stress, the main problem is that it’s ephemeral, it doesn’t last forever and it doesn’t really help. 

Gambling as a cause of stress

As we’ve seen in countless cases before, gambling is actually an exacerbator of stress due to the financial strain that it can place on the individual. 

This is often where the real problems start and it’s common for addictions to form, leading to erratic and abnormal behavior, further gambling debts and issues with relationships.

It is therefore vital to find an effective stress management method that does not strive for a “quick fix” of dopamine with risk and chance, but rather through wholesome and constructive activities and support systems that strive to make a real difference. 

Although there are a number of different positive stress relief systems, some examples can be seen below:

  1. Practice self-care – This can come in many different forms whether that be a 30-minute morning walk, a soak in the tub or even getting a fresh new haircut. Most people have strategies (aside from gambling) that work for them and that they know will reduce their stress, helping them to relax. 
  2. Access a support system – A support system that individuals can rely on is one of the very best things to turn to during a difficult time. Support can come in many different forms whether that be friends, family, neighbors or colleagues. If we are able to open up and chat with at least one person about what we difficulties are occurring in our lives, we become less stressed and have elevated mental health. 
  3. Counseling – Counselling is often referred to as one of the “last resorts”, but that’s a reputation that should now be outdated. Trained counselors are worth their weight in gold with the ability to quickly identify the sources of stress and develop effective strategies to recover. For gambling-specific stresses, individuals can call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 to arrange a completely free and confidential appointment with either a trained gambling counselor or financial counselor.
  4. Focus on health – One of the first things to lose focus on when stressed is a healthy lifestyle. By ensuring that you’ve got proper eating and sleeping habits as well as implemented exercise, mental health can improve and stress can be reduced. 

There are countless other methods and management strategies to deal with stress and reach the root of the problem. You’ve just got to find the one that works for you. 

The Takeaway 

Although stress relief in the form of gambling may seem like a good idea at the time, 9 times out of 10 it will lead to more problems than individuals start with. 

The surge of adrenaline combined with the dopamine hits associated with gambling is a recipe bound for addiction, especially when used to escape the stresses of reality. It may be fun once or twice, but it’s important to remember that escaping stress does not solve the problems. 

By practicing self-care, accessing your support system, chatting to a counselor and focusing on healthy habits, stress can be alleviated just as quickly as it arrives. 

There are countless different ways to reduce stress and solve the root of the problem, you’ve just got to find the one that works for you.

A senior academic researcher, reviewer, and editor, Dr. Declan Pouros is also an internationally accredited psychotherapist. He earned his PhD in Psychological Counseling and Guidance, and in the years since, he has taught in the Department of Psychological Counseling and Guidance himself.He has also authored papers that have gone on to appear in such world-renowned journals as the European Journal of Psychological Assessment, Psychological Reports, the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. Asia Pacific Psychiatry, and Computers in Human Behaviour.

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