Bridge is traditionally thought of as one of the best ways to keep the brain thinking well into older age, and it’s known to slow the progression of many neurological and degenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s and dementia related to it.
But what if bridge could be useful to other conditions?
Here are 4 ways the game of bridge might help people to recover from serious emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress.
Links Between PTSD and Gaming
Advocates of banning (or burning) violent video games and Dungeons & Dragons have put a lot of time and money into convincing people that art will imitate life – and that violent video games or wildly expressive music turns you into a killing machine.
Research into video games and the brain has proved that it might be the opposite of what we expected: Video games can be a potentially effective treatment for trauma.
Diagnosed cases of post-traumatic stress have shown positive results when allowed to express themselves through video games, sometimes aided by the use of virtual reality.
Video gaming (and the ability to control a situation or character) is beneficial. It might allow many people who have been through unique types of trauma to regain the feeling of control that’s often lost once trauma has been experienced.
It’s a reasonable enough conclusion to imagine that it’s not exclusive to video games alone.
1. It Offers Interaction and Support
Alienation is common for anyone who has been through significant trauma: Victims of trauma will often become withdrawn over time, usually trying to avoid situations that they fear might re-trigger the originally experienced trauma or a general feeling of anxiety or fear.
The game of bridge allows for healthy interaction – and an amount of support that you won’t find anywhere else. Online and offline bridge clubs are great places for conversation, although at the same time it’s an environment neutral enough to not end up overwhelming for a natural introvert.
2. It’s a Worldwide Movement
The game of bridge is a worldwide movement with thousands of players in almost every habitable corner of the globe.
Most people are guaranteed a nearby bridge club no matter where in the world they are right now, and online games played with others fill in the gap for the rest.
Insomnia is common for anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. If you wake up at 3AM and you’re in need of some distraction, there’s guaranteed to be an online bridge game somewhere, or you can just play against a bot.
3. We Call Mantras “Conventions”
Thousands of support groups, trauma counselors and self help books advocate the use and repetition of mantras and/or the use of grounding techniques to alleviate anxiety and escape the throws of panic attacks that are common for victims of traumatic events.
Repeating a word or phrase (or alternatively engaging in any soothing and centering behavior) is taught in order to take the sting out of a rising panic attack. It’s a way to return to the here and now, especially in the event of regressive flashbacks, nightmares or general anxiety.
Bridge is one of those games that can be defined with, “Easy to learn, but hard to master.” This means that there’s plenty to recite: Choose your mantra from any of the bidding conventions available and recite these whenever you feel about to tip over the edge.
It’s surprising how much it can really do to bring you back to the present time.
4. The Game Promotes Healthy Neural Growth
Trauma doesn’t just affect people emotionally: Over time, experienced trauma has a physical effect on the brain – and this causes lesions that can affect the brain just as much as physical trauma.
Bridge is known to promote healthy neural growth and the formation of new connections within the brain. It’s not just useful for conditions like dementia; it could also prove to be useful to the recovery of anyone who has experienced considerable trauma and its after-effects over the course of a lifetime.