Games are often viewed as mere entertainment, even if they can actually do wonders for your mind. By making time for your favourite game, you can actually balance your mind, body, and soul while doing something fun. Although games are usually played for relaxation purposes, they can help you unwind and learn new skills at the same time.

In fact, a report by BBC highlights that games have neurological benefits because they can strengthen the connection between different parts of the brain, and even support personal development. The report cites that people who played more games at an older age experienced fewer declines in their cognitive abilities, thus illustrating that games can play a big role in strengthening one’s brain functions.

So if you want to balance your mind and sharpen your cognitive skills, here are a few games that you can try:

Tokaido

Developing a balanced and skilled mind can be quite a challenge, especially if you’re used to a fast-paced lifestyle.

However, you can train your mind to slow down and develop mindfulness through the board game, Tokaido. Travelling can be hectic, and a guide to intercontinental board games highlights that your mindfulness will get tested in Tokaido once fellow travellers — that is, your fellow players — block your position in-game. Other players will definitely get in your way, but the game will challenge you to remain Zen so that you can refill your money purse, collect crucial items, and even enjoy a local delicacy or two. Much like in real life, you’ll learn to collect yourself and focus on the present moment, even if things get chaotic now and then.

Poker

Cognitive flexibility is your brain’s ability to adjust your behaviour based on the present, and you can harness this skill by playing poker.

It’s difficult to maintain a poker face when you’re losing, but a list of mental skills developed through poker highlights that experienced players know how to accept their losses and learn from their mistakes. Instead of appearing upset after a bad beat, poker professional Phil Ivey demonstrates his cognitive flexibility skills by using his losses as an opportunity to analyse his game and improve his strategies for the next round. Just like Ivey, you can improve your cognitive flexibility by being mindful of your responses after each round, and train yourself to calculate the probabilities of a positive outcome during games.

Cluedo

Murder mystery games may be the last option for the faint-hearted, but Cluedo serves as a good instrument for improving your own perceptions.

Cluedo is a board game created by a Leeds-based games manufacturer, and it challenges individuals to play as a detective who can find meaning in a chain of events and uncover facts through reason. This logical approach to problem solving encourages players to recognise their real-world biases against individuals and overcome them for the sake of the common good.

Bridge

If you find it difficult to work towards your personal goals, then try improving your cognitive control through bridge.

Each individual event in the card game involves uncertainties and probabilities, but elite bridge players state that their enjoyment and passion for the game serve as their motivation to play well and strive to win. Bridge players can still demonstrate diligence and commitment even if they don’t score 100 points, thus showing that they can control their thoughts and responses to achieve their ultimate goal.

Games are great activities to turn into hobbies because they can entertain and stimulate your mind at the same time. By participating in these games, you’ll learn when to think fast, take it slow, and sharpen your mind in the long run.

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