There’s something fun and nostalgic about playing board games, which offer a welcome break from screens of every kind.
Not only are board games a great way to spend some time with friends and family, they keep our minds sharp, can promote relaxation and may create social opportunities, experts say.
Read on to game-plan our old-school board game pursuits.
Board games promote positive mental health in many ways.
"From a cognitive perspective, many board games challenge our executive functioning or more advanced brain skills," said Carol Lambdin-Pattavina, OTD, a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association. She's also an associate professor in the department of Occupational Therapy at the University of New England in Portland, Maine.
"These skills include working memory, mental flexibility, emotional regulation, organization and more," she said.
In particular, she said working memory is a type of short-term memory that is used to solve immediate problems that present themselves throughout our day.
People frequently use their working memory, she said, while playing many board games by quickly determining the next move based on a quick assessment of the available options needed to outwit opponents.
Another benefit is mental flexibility — which allows us to shift our thinking and take a new approach, particularly when playing a board game with a strong emphasis on strategy, Lambdin-Pattavina told Fox News Digital.
Board games can also present opportunities to experience a broad range of emotions.
"Some can be pleasant, such as elation over winning the game, and some can be challenging, such as frustration when a wrong move is made," she said.
"The great thing about board games is that the stakes are low, so learning to emotionally regulate can feel less threatening."
Finally, many board games have associated objects that must be organized by players if they are to keep pace with game play, she said.
"Imagine what would happen if we were unable to organize all of the money, property cards and houses while playing Monopoly," she said.
Board games are used frequently in the context of occupational therapy practice, reported Lambdin-Pattavina.
"Play is the primary occupation of children — and as we age, leisure occupations often include board games for many," she noted.
"Healing our minds, our hearts, our bodies and our spirits is easier when the methods of healing are perceived as enjoyable."
This state of enjoyment, she said, releases neurotransmitters responsible for well-being and happiness, such as serotonin.
"Because board games can address a variety of challenges from cognition to social and emotional well-being, they are frequently used as a therapeutic medium," Lambdin-Pattavina told Fox News Digital.
Board games are "absolutely" relaxing for players, said Kathleen Young, PhD, MPH, a board-certified clinical psychologist and director of behavioral health with Novant Health Family Medicine in Wilmington, North Carolina.
"Many people say that playing board games is a hobby or activity that provides stress relief and distraction and a way to be able to get away and escape from day-to-day challenges," Young told Fox News Digital.
Many games require the use of social skills such as cooperation, communication and teamwork, so they provide opportunities for developing these skills, Young said.
"In addition, playing board games can provide people with an excuse to make time for and connect socially with others," she continued.
"If you are looking for a way to make new social connections, it might be helpful to look for a social group that meets to play board games."
Further, board games vary greatly in terms of social demands, noted Lambdin-Pattavina with the University of New England.
"Some games like chess require minimal social interaction during game play, whereas games like Clue or Monopoly require more," she said.
"Games can be a great way of teaching social skills by modeling effective social behaviors," she added.
"Board games can also be selected based on the degree of social interaction that the players can tolerate."