Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million people in the United States annually. The number represents 19% of the population aged 18 years and above.
People from all over the United States live with anxiety which can be divided into five major types. These are generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, panic disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Many treatments have been developed to help people with anxiety disorders. Surprisingly, some experts have chosen a unique way to relieve individuals of their anxiety through games.
According to studies, board games may have a potentially positive effect on brain functions, cognitive effects, and modification of health-related lifestyle factors.
This article will overview the current consensus on board games and how they can help relieve people affected by anxiety. So, this write-up is for you if you’re living with one of these anxiety conditions.
How Do Games Help in Managing Anxiety?
A 2021 study shows commercial video games can help people manage anxiety through content or in-game scenarios, which tackle anxiety-related and mental health issues.
However, consensus over the beneficial effects of board games on people experiencing anxiety is growing.
Here are some known benefits of board games, which may help people with anxiety disorders.
- Create communication – because of the nature of board games and how it is played. It is an affordable way for people to connect. Board games may act as a tool to help people deal with bouts of loneliness and isolation.
- Board games improve cognition or brainpower – Games such as chess and the Asian Go helps people develop their creative and analytical thought processes. These games may stimulate the neurons in the brain and help cognitive performance for daily tasks.
- Board games may help treat symptoms of dementia. A study showed a possible link to lowering the risk of dementia in people playing board games, especially in the elderly. The study also observed less depression in older people who are board game players.
- Board games lower stress – Though there are board games where players can go online and compete with each other, playing lessens stress, and builds enthusiasm in players.
- Board games are fun – Playing games with people is fun, enjoyable, and therapeutic. Games that let people communicate, interact and have fun may be one of the best treatments for boredom, loneliness, and anxiety.
Board games effectively break the loneliness and self-isolation commonly seen in people with depression and anxiety. The interactions made over the board between friends, family members, or people who deeply care may improve the lives of people with anxiety disorders.
What Kind of Games Can Help Manage Anxiety?
There’s a certain allure to slow-paced, creative, constructive, and rewarding games. Games allow players to set their own pace, not push through shooting corridors and forceful plot.
Tabletop games are popular board games whose role-playing features inspired digital adaptations in modern consoles.
However, some observations show people playing tabletop games such as Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) showed signs of confidence, which can be beneficial in treating people with anxiety.
Other board games such as Chess, Go, and Monopoly also helps people deal with stress and anxiety.
However, people have different tastes, and a good game for one may not be for the game for another. Yet, according to many professionals who are into the science of stress relief and anxiety treatment, here are some games that might be helpful.
List of Games That Can Help
- Chess – An old board game that focuses on strategy, memorization, and developing a keen eye for recognizing patterns. It is a game for two people on a checkered board with 64 squares.
Each player has 16 pieces to capture or checkmate each other’s kings. Playing chess engages the mind and develops cognitive skills, which may help lessen cases of anxiety and depression in people.
- Go – An ancient board game with white and black stones on a checkered board. The game aims to gain more points over your opponent by capturing enemy stones. Rules for capturing enemy stones are simple and can easily be grasped by first-time players.
- Tabletop role-playing games – Another exciting board game for people is role-playing tabletops. These games are the precursor to the digital RPG genre in modern-day consoles. Tabletops allow people to communicate, strategize, connect with other players and develop friendships.
- Scrabble – A word game where up to four people can play. The game aims to create words from letter tiles. Each letter has different points. The more letters you use to spell words on the board will ramp up your points. The player with the highest score wins.
- Ticket to Ride: Europe – A tabletop game that is set in Europe during the age of industrialization. The game aims to create connections over the board by building railroads. It is one of the strategy games that are similar to digital versions of city-building and empire-building, like Civilizations and Hearts of Iron.
- Anxiety Disorders – Facts & Statistics
- Why Video Games Can Be Good for Your Brain and Body
- Gaming Your Mental Health: A Narrative Review on Mitigating Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Using Commercial Video Games
- Playing board games, cognitive decline and dementia: a French population-based cohort study