I play chess. I play it very badly. But it serves a definite purpose with regard to writing: It uses a different part of the brain. So when I've been pushing really hard on a story, as I have with the new, untitled (of course) one that I'm writing now, a few games of chess banish the story completely from my mind for a while. Actually, chess is almost the only thing that banishes the story, and thus gives my fictional brain a rest. Not even sleep works as well, because I sometimes dream of stories I'm working on.
I will be away this long weekend, visiting a friend at the New Jersey shore. Walking on the beach, eating crab, and drinking white wine will not, I know from experience, keep my fictional characters (Jenny, Eric, Carleen) from clamoring at my mind. And the friends I'm visiting do not play chess. Them's the breaks.