Board games are a great way to interact with other people and are usually a very enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Even if you’re not the winner of the game the time spent having fun with friends and family often overrides any frustration involved with losing the game.
There are countless styles of board games available on the market today. Everything from solitaire to cooperative group games where there isn’t always a win/lose scenario involved. Party games like Cards Against Humanity have garnered tons of attention for being hilariously fun and offering fans numerous expansion deck options.
If you have ever wondered if there are mental health benefits of playing board games you aren’t alone. The truth is there are plenty of benefits involved in playing board games or even single player games like solitaire which means you don’t have to write that time off as simply time spent only having fun.
You’re gaining a lot every time you sit down at the table to start up a game. While some games offer you the chance to laugh, others give you a chance to build up logic and strategy skills. Solitaire games would be a lot less interesting if they didn’t involve using your brain to really focus on the best possible move each time you play a card.
There are also mental health benefits involved in playing board games. If you’re curious about what those benefits are, keep on reading. Here are 10 mental health benefits of playing board games you may not have known before now.
1. They Reduce Stress
Board games give you a chance to forget about things going on in the world. It’s a chance to escape into another reality or at least place your focus on something other than your current anxiety-inducing issues.
When you’re focused on your hand of cards, or you immerse yourself in the alternate world of a role-playing game you’re allowing yourself some time to let your brain reset. If you find that you’re experiencing a lot of extra stress at any point in time, a board game could be a great tool for you to use to get some respite from your worries.
2. They Help You Make Social Connections
Sometimes mental health-related issues can cause you to pull away from the people around you. You might find yourself choosing to isolate because you don’t know how to handle a situation, or just because you are having a harder time connecting with people.
By nature, board games give you a way to interact with others without having to worry about awkward conversations. Playing a game lets you be social but gives you some comfort because the time you’re spending with others has a clear focus and goal.
If you are someone who isolates because you feel socially awkward, board games give you a way to structure your time with others so you don’t have to feel the anxiety and pressure of coming up with something to talk about.
3. They Increase Your Mental Agility
While some board games are just plain fun others focus heavily on using strategic skills to both play and win the game. Games like Yahtzee require you to use math skills to tabulate the best scores for each slot you need to fill, and you’ve already learned about some of the ways a game of solitaire can help you focus your mental energy on something useful.
Any time you can double up something fun with something that requires you to think is a chance for you to keep your brain functioning at its best. It’s basically a sneaky way to get in a mental work out while still having a lot of fun.
4. They Increase Your Self Confidence
Board games are an easy way to gain a little more confidence in yourself and your personal talents. Games that require creativity can show you how well you do things like write, draw, act, or even sing. Games requiring a lot of strategy can help show you how strong your problem-solving skills truly are.
Even if you don’t win the game, every time a solution you come up with advances your gameplay you’re gaining a little more confidence in your abilities. Board games are an easy win in the self-confidence column so take advantage of it regularly.
5. They Can Help You Feel Grounded Again
In general, you probably spend a lot of time in front of screens. Computers, phones, the TV, technology is something almost everyone has to rely on daily. That’s not to say technology is a bad thing, but spending so much time in front of your computer or on your phone can take you away from the real world.
Board games give you a chance to unplug, literally. You get to put down the phone, close the laptop, and interact with real physical game pieces, cards, and other people. If you find that you’re feeling disconnected from everything around you, try breaking out a real game instead of a gaming app. It could make a world of difference in your mood for the day.
6. They’re Just Plain Fun
Sometimes having fun is all you need to get yourself out of a funk. Board games are meant to be enjoyed so it makes sense that they’d be a great option when you need to have a little fun. If you’re feeling down and need a quick pick me up, board games can give you that option.
Don’t underestimate the value of laughing while you’re playing your board game either. Laughing has been shown to increase endorphins which are feel-good chemicals your body naturally produces. Board games give you a boost of fun and laughter without having to do more than a little set up before you start feeling better.
7. They Can Help You Deal With Being Overwhelmed
Have you ever played a game where you have to make a lot of decisions all at once or you won’t be able to keep playing? A lot of games offer that type of play and they’re a great way to learn how to make decisions quickly in a low-risk environment. The good thing about that is you can transfer those decision-making skills over to real life situations.
Board games give you a chance to practice how to prioritize, make a plan, and then act on that plan. Keeping those types of skills sharp will help you handle real-life situations where you are overwhelmed with a lot of decisions that all need to be made at the same time.
The best part about this benefit of playing board games is you’re gaining these skills without even realizing it most of the time. You’re just playing the game and having fun, but your mind is learning how to apply those skills to real life at the same time.
8. They Can Give You Energy
Sometimes when you’re struggling with a mental health issue like depression you can end up feeling like you don’t have the energy to do anything at all. While taking on daily tasks may be too much when you’re really struggling, a board game could be a more appealing way to get yourself to perk up a little.
The idea of work or cleaning may be too much but if you focus on an activity that you enjoy, like playing board games you might find you gain some energy just by playing the game. Your brain will be working on strategies and tricks to win, all of which can result in feeling more energetic by the time the game ends.
9. They Can Help End Fights
This one might seem a little silly when you first hear it but it’s still true. When you’re having a difficult time getting along with someone a good option you should consider is playing a game. As you’ve already seen, board games often induce laughter and again, they’re just plain fun.
Often times when you’re engaged with a game that’s allowing you to enjoy the time spent with someone you’ve been arguing with you’ll end up forgetting what you were bickering about by the time the game is over. The benefits of playing a game instead of yelling about the same things over and over shouldn’t be overlooked. It could save you a lot of time and frustration.
10. They Can Help Teach Social Skills
This is a little different than the social interaction benefits you already know about. Board games can help children and adults with limited social skills gain a more effective understanding of how people interact with each other. It’s an easy way to learn things that are socially acceptable.
Board games teach skills like communication, patience, and teamwork. All of these are highly valuable social skills that can be applied to real life. Without proper social skills, you can find yourself really struggling to maintain good mental health so this benefit is highly important.
As you can see, board games offer extremely helpful mental health benefits that you’ll be able to enjoy in other areas of your life. They are a fun, easy way to get yourself back on track and enjoying life quickly. Figure out which games you enjoy the most and start experiencing these benefits for yourself. Your time spent playing a board game will be time well spent.