So you get home after a grueling day at work or school (or both in my case) and sit down at the computer to your favourite game, a few hours tick by, a couple monsters collapse in a pile of decaying [in 3minutes] flesh. You feel relaxed. Wrong!
You feel stressed by the 2 idiots that kept shooting their weapons at everything that moved, your emotions are going nuts by the guild members who say you are not pulling your weight, your eyes are still darting around trying to find that damn mob you need to finish the quest. Seriously, if you are not stressed then you got something wrong.
I have found over the last several years of gaming that the rule of one day of rest recommended by doctors, Jews, Christians, and Muslims [that is an extremely large slice of the population] does not just apply to work, it also applies to gaming.
For a long while I was finding myself gaming every day, especially on my 'days off' and then wondering why I was so worn out at work. It was nto until last year that I went on a gaming sabbatical for three months that I realised how worn out games were making me. My work stopped becoming a droning wasteland and I began to sleep better and wake up more easily. I then began MMOs again.
After testing several MMOs I arrived at several conditions that make an MMO more relaxing.
1. Guilds are stressful. Such emotional drains can be extremely exhausting. While some guilds are great, even the best ones can lead you to complain to your wife constantly how 'Xerxes' [no one I know] is secretly trying to depose you from council and 'Juan' is totally ruining the fabric of the guild. I have found that a friend list is much less stressful than a guild, unless you got a guild in name only, or a family (real life) guild.
2. Instances make me angry. Really that should read 'people make me angry' because it is not the instances that cause anger, it is those that stuff it up. Most game instances are just a melting pot waiting to explode and recognising this and quitting early is a good quality to have. Saying this, Tabula Rasa instances I found never had this problem due to the open nature.
3. PuGs rock! the great thing about a PuG is you don't have to worry about pissing someone off, not only that but if you are not worrying then people like you more. While many people claim they get angry with PuGs I find that at least it is less stressful than people you know. When they are bastards you just ignore them and there is no consequences for your social life.
4. Family gaming is best. When you have a wife that is a gamer like me you quickly learn that gaming stops being a chore when you make it into family time. nothing is more relaxing than having your wife tear apart a giant spider while you heal her. It is so beautiful tears are coming to my eyes, I can't wait to have kids and watch them feast on dragons.
5. One day of rest. As mentioned above, I usually have one day a week of rest from gaming. Sometimes this day falls on a normal work day, and sometimes it falls on a weekend, either way it gives me time to relax, sit back and read a book, write, or just watch a soppy movie about a bunch of Americans who just saved each other while everyone else died.
Since I have started watching my gaming and taking a bit of time out I can attest to improving my work, waking up more easily, and finding more time to do more useful things. I, and those around me, would still say I am a serious gamer, but I am more casual about it, perhaps this is the definition of a casual gamer? The ability to say "I need a rest, no gaming today!"