What are the Psychological Health Benefits of Board Games for Adults & Children Alike?

Board games are one of our favorite ways to unwind and make memories with friends and family. They can be cathartic and relaxing, or uplifting and energizing - it all depends on the specific game being played and the vibe in the group!

But - were you aware there are actual health benefits of playing board games with family or friends? It’s true - studies have linked board games to a variety of psychological health benefits, including decreased stress, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, improved cognitive function, and more.

And, beyond the health aspect, there are countless other benefits of board games - for all ages, but especially children. It teaches critical thinking and problem-solving, enhances creativity, cuts back on screen time, and serves as a great way to connect individuals.

Today, we’re going to fully unpack all the benefits of board games for you - so you can see why adding regular game nights is such a great idea! Let's get right into the topic at hand.

The Psychological Health Benefits of Board Games Explained

benefits of playing board games with family

To kick things off, we’ll start by discussing the psychological benefits of playing board games - because they are vast! First and foremost we’ll discuss one of the most recognized benefits of board games: improved cognitive function.

Improved Cognitive Function by Teaching Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

One way that board games can improve cognitive function is through the use of strategy and problem-solving. Many board games, such as chess and Settlers of Catan, require players to think ahead, plan their moves, and anticipate their opponent's actions. This type of mental exercise can help to improve memory, concentration, and decision-making skills.

Another way that board games can improve cognitive function is through the use of memory. Games that require players to remember the locations of different pieces or cards, such as memory match games or concentration, can help to improve memory and recall abilities.

Additionally, many board games involve some degree of luck and chance, which can help to improve cognitive flexibility. The ability to adapt and adjust to changing circumstances is a critical cognitive skill, and games that involve chance can help to improve this ability.

Decreased Stress 

We probably don’t have to tell you about the importance of having healthy coping mechanisms for stress. The good news is that board games are an excellent way to keep your mental health in check This is actually backed by science.

Playing board games can be a great way to relax and unwind, providing a distraction from daily stressors - whether it be work, relationships, finances - you name it. Playing a fun game with your favorite people can shift focus and attention away from stressors and onto the game, providing a temporary escape. 

Additionally, board games can provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. The feeling of winning a game or making progress in a game can boost self-esteem and mood, which can help to decrease stress levels as well. And through socialization with friends and family, your mood will be elevated even higher. Sometimes, just being around the right people can get your mind off things - and board game nights create that opportunity. 

Moreover, board games can also provide a way for people to express themselves and their emotions in a safe and non-threatening way. This can be especially beneficial for people who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally.

The best part? Board games are a fun and enjoyable form of stress relief. Unlike some other stress-relieving activities, such as exercise or meditation, playing board games does not require a specific time or place, and can be done anytime and anywhere, making it easy to incorporate it as part of a daily routine.

Reduced Risk of Alzheimer’s or Dementia in Elderly

One of the most powerful psychological benefits of board games - particularly for the elderly - is the manner in which it keeps the mind sharp. Regularly playing board games can offset the risk of awful conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Research has shown that mentally stimulating activities, such as playing board games, can help to slow down cognitive decline and reduce the risk of developing age-related conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Playing games such as chess, checkers, and crossword puzzles can help to keep the mind active and engaged, which can help to delay the onset of dementia.

Similarly, board games can provide a way for individuals with dementia to connect with others and maintain social connections - a key factor in preventing this condition. Playing games with friends or family can help to improve social support while also providing a sense of accomplishment. 

It's worth noting that games should be chosen according to the cognitive abilities of the individual with dementia. Simple games that involve matching, sorting and counting are more appropriate for people with early-stage dementia, while games that require more complex problem-solving, such as chess and crosswords, are more appropriate for people with moderate to advanced dementia.

Additional Benefits of Playing Board Games Beyond Better Mental Health

Psychological benefits of board games

Beyond just the psychological benefits of board games, there are other reasons to make regular game nights a priority with friends and family. If for no other reason, to get together and create memories with the people who matter most to you! 

Great Way to Bond With Friends and Family

If you and your friend group need an excuse to get together, hosting a board game night is a great idea! And, this is a great way to get your kids out of their rooms and spend some much-needed family time together.

Unlike other things you and your family/friends can do together - like watching a movie/sports game, partaking in physical activity, getting dinner/drinks, or anything else - board games are something everyone can enjoy. There are no age limits on board games, nor are there any physical restrictions. 

Board games transcend generations - and can be a way to connect old and young alike. Making this a tradition will elevate the relationship you have with your friends and family alike!

Enhances Creativity

While many board games teach you critical thinking and problem-solving, others enhance your creativity - unlocking a part of your brain you may not have even known existed! There are countless board games perfect for those looking to expand their creative boundaries. 

Take role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, for example. You must come up with a convincing, entertaining backstory for your character - or the campaign as a whole - when you host a Dungeons and Dragons setup. There are other highly-popular tabletop RPGs that offer similar benefits. 

There are other types of games that force players to get their creative juices flowing, too. Here are some other examples of this at play:

  • Storytelling games like "Once Upon a Time" or "The Quiet Year" require you to build a story based on a deck of cards. 
  • Buildable games such as "Ticket to Ride" or "Carcassonne" require players to be creative in planning and strategizing where to place their pieces.
  • Word games like "Scrabble" or "Bananagrams" require players to be creative in forming words from a set of letters.
  • Party games like "Apples to Apples" or "Cards Against Humanity" require players to be creative in coming up with funny, witty, or unexpected answers to prompts

All of this is to say, board games offer the best of both worlds when it comes to your brain: working the left and right sides alike. It just comes down to which games you choose. And, certain games feature elements of critical thinking and creativity!

Improves Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is becoming more and more lacking in today’s society. The best way to work on this is to find something that fulfills you and offers a sense of accomplishment. And, as you probably already realize, board games do just that!

First and foremost, the skills and abilities you develop through playing board games (like enhanced creativity, improved cognitive function, greater memory recall, etc.) will have you feeling more confident in your abilities when you encounter real-world problems. 

Another way board games can help improve self-confidence is through tough decision-making. Players must make decisions and take risks, which can help individuals build confidence in their ability to make decisions and handle the consequences of those decisions.

Perhaps the most obvious way in which board games can improve your self-esteem, though, is through their competitive nature. Nothing creates a greater feeling of accomplishment than winning - even if there are no real stakes! Having bragging rights among your friends and family is reason enough to play board games regularly.

Finally, board games enhance your confidence level in social settings. Certain board games teach you invaluable communication skills, so you’ll feel confident navigating group projects, team meetings - or any other real-world scenarios like these.

Overall, this is an invaluable benefit of board games for children in particular - but this type of self-validation is something everyone needs, young or old.

Cut Back on Screen Time

Spending too much time in front of screens can lead to a variety of negative consequences. These include poor sleep habits, worsened mental health, weight gain, headaches, and more. And in this day and age, we’re likely all guilty of too much screen time.

Thus, you can get the entire family or your group of friends to take a break while reaping all the other psychological benefits of playing board games! These are one of the most engaging ways to get away from the digital world. You won’t even realize how long you’ve gone without checking your phone because of how much fun you’re having.

Ready to Experience the Benefits of Playing Board Games With Family or Friends?

Benefits of playing Board Games

As you can see, there are countless health benefits of board games. There’s a good chance you could gain something from at least a few of these benefits - if not all of them. So - what now? How can you get started experiencing the benefits of board games firsthand?

Below, we’ll share some of our favorite games with you and explain how you can create a space for gaming if you don’t already have one. From there, it’s just a matter of getting the gang together and letting the good times flow!

Here are Some of Our Favorite Games

If you don’t already have a board game in mind - or you’re looking for some new ones to keep things fresh - we’ve got a few resources to offer inspiration. Check out our article on the most popular board games of all time - these are an excellent starting point. You can also consider the best cooperative board games - a great choice for larger groups.

Or, if you’re more interested in card games, read our article on the best card games with a standard deck. With just a single deck of cards, you have access to countless different games. You can even look into hosting a poker night. It doesn’t matter what you play - as long as you’ve got good company and you make game nights a regular occurrence, you’ll enjoy the benefits of playing board games with family or friends!

Dedicating a Space to Gaming

Once you know what you’re going to play, you need to figure out where you’re going to play. Not everyone has the space for a game room. Even small game room ideas are out of the question for more of us. 

It’s more likely you’ll play in either the living room or dining room (or for many of us, the section of our home that serves as a living room dining room combo). All that really matters is everyone has ample space to spread out and enjoy the activity. And to make that easy, you may want to look into what many consider to be the best piece of multifunctional furniture for small spaces: the Dresden. 

This custom board game table serves as a dining table when not in use - and an impressive one at that. It’s handcrafted from luxury wood and brought to life with unparalleled attention to detail. It’s a masterpiece, and it will transform the way you and your family/guests dine, game, and otherwise spend time together. 

It can be designed to fit any space and customized to your exact specifications. Choose from an array of design styles and woodgrains to seamlessly blend this piece into the rest of your home. Learn more about why you need this work of art in your home over on the product page!

Final Thoughts on the Health Benefits of Playing Board Games

That wraps up our full breakdown of the psychological benefits of playing board games. It’s easy to see why these have been around for generations, and only continue to become more popular. 

From helping improve cognitive skills and creativity to lowering degenerative brain conditions, creating memories with loved ones, and so much more - there are a seemingly endless number of reasons you need to get your friends in a group chat and schedule that first game night! Or, get the kids out of their room and put their phones in a basket for a few hours while you all bond over a few games. 

At this point, there are only two things left to do - choose your game and get the most innovative furniture online today at Bandpass Design! It’s time to transform the way you experience board games.