I know I am not alone when I say, this global pandemic has been rough for my mental health. With each passing day, it’s become harder to stay positive and optimistic, even simple tasks like getting dressed or eating a proper meal have become chores for me. Good days become bad days and bad days turn into worse ones. Throughout the pandemic, board games have been a silver lining that I’ve been able to find solace in. Today I’d like to share with you the positive impact that board games have had on my mental health throughout my entire life, but more specifically, during this hellish time.
For me, board games have always been more than just a fun pass time. They have helped me in many aspects of my life, especially those pertaining to mental health. One of the first things I noticed when the isolation began was how quickly I fell into the habit of watching Netflix whenever I wasn’t working. This was unhealthy for many reasons, but mostly, I could slowly feel my brain turning into mush. That and it’s incredibly easy to eat a week’s worth of snacks when you are binging your favourite show… Turning my attention to board games has helped me exercise many different areas of my brain that otherwise were not getting much notice. I’ve come to learn that there is an appropriate board game for whatever brain power I have in me. Some games are better than others for certain things. If I’m feeling drained and low energy then something quick and simple like Love Letter can melt away those feelings and put me in a good mood. There are also games like Stuffed Fables or Above and Below for when I’m feeling bored or agitated that I’m stuck in the house and want to adventure around. Whatever mood I’m in, there is a board game just waiting to help me out!
Another reason why focusing so much on board games has helped me stay positive, is the sense of community that it offers, even when my friends and I are stuck at home. Many board games exist online or are easily playable over some form of video chat. Making plans with friends, having something to look forward to and maintaining connection to people I would regularly spend time with has been more than empowering these last few months. Why empowering, you ask? To put things into perspective, I have Autism Spectrum Disorder, sometimes I can get overwhelmed with the goings on of the world, especially if I feel a lack of control in my life. Board games and RPG’s are fun scenarios that I can dive head first into and get lost in for hours. It’s something I have control over. I can decide what games I want to play, when, with who and how. I can also walk away at any time if I need to. My group of friends has always been very understanding of mental health and how it presents itself in different ways depending on the person, the fact that I feel comfortable and myself when I am playing games with friends is incredibly empowering to me. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can be consuming, even when there isn’t a pandemic going on. It is and always has been so important for me to maintain connection with friends and family.
Board games can also act as a tool for different forms of education and mental stimulation. This is imperative when so many other areas of our life are feeling stagnant. There have been many occasions when I’ve learned a new word, tested my math skills or even learned a bit of geography while playing games! I cannot count how many times I’ve walked away from a board game having learned something new. Some games are also really great at exercising tasks like dexterity, memory, problem solving, language comprehension.. The list goes on!
To put things simply, this pandemic has been, well, not great. But, if there were to ever be a silver lining throughout this last year, for me, it’s definitely been board games! In fact, I’ve even been able to rope some friends into the hobby lately. The pandemic won’t last forever and I’m really excited for the day I can travel, go to the movies and mall again, but until then, you can find me happily playing some board games with my bubble or online! Stay safe, stay sane, stay home and play board games!