Board Games for Mental Health

Some people think ‘a board game is one hour of game play followed by 4 hours of arguing’. I know it has started some interesting reactions in our house at times. As we all know, our whole life is about problem solving and building relationships with others. Board games can teach us life skills in communication, meeting challenges and learning to win or lose gracefully. They can also provide valuable stimulation for your mind.

Playing games creates an on-going activity. It encourages you to meet and interact with many other interesting people from all walks of life and generations. It is a great social and community builder, whether it is King’s Cribbage, Chess,  Scrabble, Monopoly, etc.

You may be thinking “I used to play, but I now have no one to play with”. The Mind Your Head Challenge is aimed at helping you find new and familiar games to play and people to play with. Playing card games and board games are part of our psyche for the PC (that’s Pre Computer) generation. It is fun and therapeutic. It focuses the mind and stimulates the brain. As soon as you learn a new game, it really becomes more fun and enjoyable. It is something you can use in a familiar setting, share with family and friends, or take with you on holiday. There is even a Mind Sports Olympiad on 18th – 26th August in London, where people compete in a whole range of board games.

Leontxo García, Spanish Chess Master, who specialises in ‘sport science’ and will be a speaker at the Mind Your Head Conference on August 12th, has carried out research on how chess (“a school of creative thinking”) can help in the prevention of brain diseases. This gives another excellent reason to play.

If necessary, many of the traditional games can be played on the computer or on-line. This can help you connect with distant family and friends; even if you are house bound or rurally isolated.

There are many people who go through life without discovering the joy of board games, so dust off those games in the attic, rescue those hidden at the back of the cupboard, invite some friends round and keep your mind challenged and engaged with every move. The reward will be making your brain and day a little brighter!

 Adapted from a speech Paul Turner, King’s Cribbage, gave to Casterbridge Speakers on March 21st. 


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