When I was younger, I thought I could stand on my own.
It wasn’t easy; I stood like a man made of stone.
“Something About You” by Boston
We humans get tense under stress. Mentally and physically, we lock up in an attempt to control ourselves and our environment. It’s a natural stress response, but locking up is often the worst response we can have to a rapidly changing environment. Ask any soldier who has seen combat, or anyone who’s ever been in a fight. Remaining relaxed is important.
There are very few activities that don’t reward the person who approaches them with a relaxed attitude. To be honest, I’m having trouble thinking of any activity that isn’t done better by someone who is more relaxed and comfortable.
Of course, it’s not exactly intuitive or easy to relax during a stressful activity. But the times I’ve managed it, I performed better. When you watch an athlete smoothly react to a changing environment, or when you stare in wonder at the video-gamer effortlessly fragging your character, you’re watching someone with a relaxed mind.
GMing is another activity to add to the list. When your players pull something completely unexpected, and you find yourself reacting to the stress by clenching up physically or mentally, take a few minutes to relax and clear your head. Don’t worry about upsetting your players; they’d rather have a good GM in a few minutes than a stressed-out one right now. With practice, this will become a natural reaction.
Experienced and confident GMs with years under their belt may never be stressed, but it’s far easier to take a few minutes to relax than it is to take a few years to be a more confident GM.
Besides, why stress? It’s just a game. You should be enjoying yourself, too!
Agree? Disagree? Got a sure-fire way to relax? Sound off in the comments, and let us know!