Mark Baldwin and colleagues at McGill University in Montreal asked call centre workers to play a very simple game for five minutes before they started work.
All that the participants had to do was to find, as quickly as possible, an image of a single smiling face in an array of 16 photos, the rest of which showed a frowning face. It was found that people who had played the game produced 17 per cent less of the stress hormone cortisol after their shift than employees who did not play the game.
"Just 5 minutes of game-play per day had a significant effect," New Scientist magazine quoted Baldwin as saying. He believes that the reduction in tension might have occurred probably because the participants were disengaged from stress while dismissing the negative, frowning images in the game.