Does anyone else feel like D&D can be mentally draining?

New player here! I just started playing last month and while I already love it, I noticed that the day after a session I tend to get super mentally exhausted. I didn’t think it was about the D&D at first, until my friends decided to hold sessions 3 days in a row! I had to cancel the third one because the thought of playing made me want to cry. My brain was absolutely not up for it.

Now I find myself having to take a mental health day after our longer sessions :sweat:

Does anyone else have this problem? What can I do to try to reduce this feeling? I have so much fun with it and I don’t want to stop playing it.

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Hi there!
I’ve also struggled with this. Although it’s really fun I feel like D&D requires a lot of admin! And at times I’ve found it a bit overwhelming. The only thing I can suggest is maybe limiting yourself to one session a week? I hope you can keep playing in a way that lets you get the most enjoyment out of it! :blush:

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I find it pretty tiring during the session. At least in my area, D&D players tend to have really long sessions (4-6 hours is common). With my current group we schedule a meal break in the middle and that helps.

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Yeah our sessions get pretty long too. We once played from 2pm to 2am and by the end of it I was literally falling asleep :tired_face: I found that getting up and standing helps a bit, but it’s really hard to pay attention to a whole lot of different things at once. I read somewhere that taking notes, doodling, and/or knitting might help with the attention aspect, but people don’t really talk about the mental toll it takes.

God, yes. My inattentive ass did not have the patience. I kept making my character die on purpose to get it over with…

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You gotta take care of yourself. Roleplaying can be super intense, and often takes a lot of mental energy. You don’t have to stop playing because it makes you tired, but you should give yourself time to rest and recuperate.

For me, I have a game I play once a week, and sometimes we just hang out and chat or play a lighter-weight game. Roleplaying and the socialization that comes with it is very important for my mental health, but it only helps if I give myself time to rest between sessions.

Don’t play more often than is good for you. If your group insists on playing several days in a row, then you may need to find a different group, or work out a way to have your character sit out some sessions.

I would also advise talking with them about limiting the session length to something that doesn’t knock you out the next day.

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Oh my lord yes. Tabletop RPG sessions are really draining for me because I have to focus or I’ll miss something, but all the games I play in tend to be in the evening - and that means my meds have worn off and I’m more easily distractible and usually tired on top of it. I lose focus so easily and end up screwing around on my phone, until the GM says “hey [my character], what do you think about this situation?” And I have to scramble to figure out what the heck is going on.

Thankfully, my main group only gets together once a month, but I think that’s going to change since two of the group members moved closer to where the rest of us live and can play more often now…

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A big mood. We have our sessions like once a month, but they’re long sessions. Like from 2:30 until 9pm. We have a break in the middle for dinner, but by that point my brain is already fried.

I always think it’d be better to have 2 breaks instead of one. I end up occupying myself with a stim toy, or drawing.

And because we play online with R20, I have to contend with the differing audio levels of several people in Discord, and end up having to wear noise reducing earplugs, under my head phones, in order to reduce the sensory overload it causes me.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes you’ll hear someones pet in the background, or someone opening a wrapper to eat something, and the loud/high sound will cut through my soul and i’ll get extremely overloaded.

@ ^ @ It’s a lot to contend with, so I try and always make sure all my notes and sheets are in one place to read easily.

And when it’s not a scene i really need to pay attention to (say a couple of characters getting solo scenes), I use that time to do something like walk off to get a drink/stretch legs, etc.

Wow I guess I never really thought about it. It’s been a while since I played in a game and far far longer since we met with regularity. I had to bow out because I went back to college and I thought that that was the reason I was having trouble which in a way it was but I never thought to suspect that other people didn’t also get exhausted by it.

I played for 26 hours straight at one point. Yea, I just kept making up more things for the players to do as a Dm and the one dude that was a PC just wanted to keep earning XP, so I just kept generating content.

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Egads! I cannot fathom playing anything for 26 hours straight anymore. I suppose there was at one point a time where I would have happily done that with Lords of Ultima (I think I would routinely get hyperfocused and play for sixteen hours at a time) but I can’t even begin to imagine what that would be like today.

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D&D is one of the things I hyper focus on. I could play for days… and have. Am I emotionally and mentally drained at the end? You bet can bet your d20 on it! but I do love playing so I give myself time afterwards to recover.

  • Breaks help: food, stretch, blink, take 5-10 minuets when your characters rest etc.
  • A seat that swivels or a spot where I can stand up also helps me
  • A soft lined dice box lets me fidget with my dice without being disruptive
  • I personally find being the DM is easier as a brain because I am constantly poked with changing stimulus to respond to and don’t have to wait nearly as long to do the next thing. (but also more draining)
  • If you see you need a break but are afraid of missing out on something, get the table (specifically the DM) snacks or drinks - no one is going to mind recapping for the person who just brought them snacks.
  • Have a doodle pad, when I’m a player and listening to what is going on or waiting my turn I often doodle so that I’m relaxing a bit.
  • Find a healthy balance that works for you and let your DM know if you find long sessions more taxing and let them know your max sessions for a week or in a row.
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Personally, writing down all the fun stuff or knitting helps a lot. I’ve knitted for every session where I wasn’t taking notes and it helped a lot. I also figured out how many hours of D&D I could take it and tried to stick to that.

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What is D&D?

I believe it’s Dungeons and Dragons
but i have never played

Yes, it’s Dungeons & Dragons. :wink:

There are multiple things that can, and maybe are, draining when playing D&D.

  1. The prep.
    D&D often needs either a little or a lot of prep.
    This can be draining before the session has even started, if you’re doing it last minute for example.
    Try to get your prep done one time, if this is an issue for you.
    Make sure the information you need is accessible for you, to minimize stressful searching through notes and sheets.

  2. Getting there already spent.
    An evening of roleplaying, concentrating, and everyone perpetually talking through each other is taxing enough as it is, but it’s even worse if you’re already low on energy when you arrive.
    Make sure you get enough sleep before and after, and make sure you eat and drink well on that day.
    Try not to do so much before a session that your brain starts to shut down on the intake of information just because it’s information at all.

  3. The session itself.
    Personally I tend to get myself all hyped up because it’s all exciting and everyone else is excited too.
    This in itself takes a lot of energy out of me and I don’t realize it until it’s quiet again.
    Conversations that aren’t relevant to the evening are fun, and shouldn’t be excluded overall, but some awareness of them can be helpful.
    Maybe let a conversation slide and focus back on the game, if this is an issue you have.
    Does your game get off track often?
    This can be especially draining because it tends to be unstructured and chaotic by nature.
    If this happens in your game, try to focus (more) on the DM, and maybe help him/her out with getting everybody back on track.
    I like pretending I forgot what’s going on and ask “What are we doing again?”
    This tends to get people’s minds back in the game.
    When it comes to taking micro breaks, I like the knitting and the getting everyone drinks or snacks idea from above.
    Personally I like to drink tea, I need to get up, boil water, get a bag, etc.
    And then do it again whenever I want to.
    Last but not least, don’t overdo it on the sugary snacks and drinks.
    More than a little sugar tends to blast people’s energy right out the window, and even if it doesn’t, it still often creates a sugar dip afterwards that is hard to get back from.

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Latecomer to this post, but I’m practically an old man of tabletop RPGs and lordy Moses, yes, D&D can be massively draining. Fun, but draining.

In my experience, the biggest problem I have is remembering all the rules and all the various bits and pieces you carry along with you. It feels like there are a thousand books of rule expansions and updates and errata and god knows what else, and then there are house rules and exceptions, and then you have to remember all the different items or spells and if this gives you a bonus against that or if your character has a racial bonus against ogres, oh, and by the way you have to remember the blessing that the cleric gave you and if that stacks with the potion, and you’re carrying the Great Sword of Boogly-Boo that does the thing but only every other Tuesday and OH MY GOD!!!

Yeah, that’s hard even without ADHD. Me and my friends would usually get to the end of a couple of hours’ session feeling like we’d been on some week-long sleepless challenge.

D&D is, I hate to say it, absolutely one of the worst for trying to remember every little detail. Which is a shame, because there’s a lot to love about it. I’d recommend looking into a couple of the more rules-light games that are around, like Savage Worlds or FATE.

Or if you’re more into the storytelling and character acting (like me) I can’t recommend highly enough Fiasco, which is more like a theatre sport or collaborative storytelling mediated by dice rolls, and generally winds up absolutely terribly for all characters involved. It’s great, and can be incredibly good fun if everyone completely throws themselves into this Coen brothers-influenced mess of people with great ambition and poor impulse control. So long as you don’t mind the idea that most, if not all, characters are likely to end up dead or in prison by the end of the story.

Funnily enough, the last time I played Fiasco I came out feeling super-energised rather than wiped out. I wonder if that’s an ADHD thing?

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Pretty active D&D player here, and I’ve found that 5e is really good for this compared to previous editions. There’s not a lot to keep track of for buffs / penalties and most end up crammed into a simple advantage / disadvantage mechanic. This puts it way ahead of Pathfinder or 3.5 where you can have twelve different bonuses to AC, some of which stack and some don’t, and a variety of other rules and options that can be daunting. I’ve also found that 5e, thanks to the more restrictive classes and feat rules, makes it much harder to fall into the rabbithole of looking up every niche feat and spell and class to perfectly optimise as previous editions did.

Some things I found to help: keep notes or ask someone else to keep notes! Especially with loot, it can be really useful if someone else in the group is willing to write down important details and ease off some of the mental load. Also very useful for keeping track of the plot without feeling, as I have before, either like you weren’t invested enough or just absent-mindedly forgot about important plot points.
Find a group that will allow some creativity, especially in combat! It was very dull and hard to keep my focus when playing something like a fighter and just doing the same set of attacks every round. I switched to bard and started doing illusions, which meant I could spend a lot of time thinking of unique ways to handle combat that helped keep focus better than “I swing my sword.”
The mental toll I don’t really have good advice for, I’ve certainly been there. The best I can say is that playing more than once a week is rough. I limit pretty strictly to four hour sessions, no more than two a week, and always with a day in between. It might also be useful to try less straining roleplay - a lot of my characters are just extensions of myself, and that cuts down on the mental toll.

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I tried playing a few times, but ran into the same problem. Most of it was really fun like designing characters, picking a class, backstory, ect. But I guess some I lost interest in quickly? I think it was a lot to do with the numbers and such for me personally. And when the story got a a bit stale I lost interest? Not sure if it relates but I think that’s why I stopped playing all together

Overall I think D&D is an awesome concept for a game! Pretty sure it was just me lol ^^’

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When I was playing as a player I enjoyed it and felt uplifted. Recently trying to play DND as the DM…has had the opposite effect. I’m drained, uninspired and generally not enjoying myself.

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