Skip to Content

16 Ways Playing Card Games Can Help Your Mental Health (De-stress,…) 

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Three friends playing card game.
Shutterstock.com

Cards are an inexpensive hobby that improves social life and mental health by spending quality time with friends and family. They help you develop critical life skills and enhance emotional resilience. Card games can promote a happy state of mind, which elevates feel-good hormone levels. When you’re feeling down, it might be worth contacting some friends and trying a card game that will lift your spirits, particularly after a difficult day.

The primary purpose of playing card games is to have fun. The health benefits come as a consequence of keeping your mind healthy. In this article, you will find many ways that card games can improve your mental health.

These are 16 potential mental health benefits of playing card games:

1. Establish and strengthen bonds

Loneliness and social anxiety are prevalent these days. The longer you hold out to take action, the more isolated you become. Card games encourage healthy relationships and are an excellent way to spend time with other people.

Playing a card game makes it easier to break the ice, helps interactions flow, encourages teamwork, and fosters the spirit of friendly competition. For instance, a quick round of Cards Against Humanity can generate hours of laughter and conversation.

2. Keep your mind sharp

Playing card games with your friends is always an excellent way to exercise your brain, no matter how old you are. Solving problems and strategizing are fundamental abilities of games. Reading the rules of a game can potentially strengthen your cognitive skills because you begin to plan your gameplay. 

Playing card games requires your brain to focus and enhance your memory, which can be particularly positive for older adults. A deck of cards can be used to learn skills in other areas such as math and vocabulary. 

Bridge, for example, is a game that requires players to use memory, visualization, and sequencing. A study from the University of California, Berkeley, even found evidence that playing bridge can fuel the immune system.

3. A minute of self-care

Many people have such a long to-do list nowadays that they rarely take time for themselves. Nonetheless, self-care practices are necessary to living a balanced and happy life. Being too busy can lead to depression if you don’t take a moment to take care of yourself. Playing card games will allow you to laugh, relax, and stay motivated afterward.

4. Relax your mind

Taking the time to relax can lower your chances of developing depression and anxiety. Card games can be a great way to get your mind off work, chores, and daily demands. Your mind will be focused on your next move, strategies, and skills during the game that it won’t have room for negative thoughts.

5. Learn valuable virtues

Playing games teaches patience, concentration, and discipline. To be a good player, you can’t rush into decisions, and you need to grasp what’s happening with the game. Although you may not realize it, game playing involves many skills like following rules, calculating risk, planning, taking turns, and predicting what your opponent will do. 

Let’s take poker, for instance; it requires a lot of practice, patience, and tolerance. As you play a game, you learn many virtues that we all need in our everyday lives.

6. Develop flexibility and adaptability

Some card games require that you step outside your comfort zone – something many people are uncomfortable with. 

Uno is an example of a game that challenges players with constant changes. Players can discard change direction cards or several pick-up cards at a time, hindering the chance of other players winning. Uno is an unpredictable game that encourages you to go with the flow and figure out how to set things right.

7. Can help reduce symptoms of depression

Card games can be a great coping mechanism for people with depression. It has already been discussed in detail, but it is crucial to note that while you occupy your mind and focus on the fun and safety of being around family and friends, it keeps negative thoughts at bay.

It is also true that card games can help you gain confidence in your skills; they can create a feeling of sure achievement. People who play card games and are socially active may be able to perform better.

8. Bring your group together

Group Of Friends At Home Playing Cards Together
Shutterstock.com

Card games are flexible and allow for groups to adjust the rules as they go to suit their abilities and interests best. 

For instance, the principles of Crazy Eights can support several different rules that allow for a variety of creative approaches in play. It promotes teamwork and helps bring a group together. Psychology Today stated that it’s an “especially powerful tool for bringing the healing power of fun to the whole community… it gives people a chance to play with behaviors.”

9. Grow a positive mindset

Focus on the interaction with friends to forget all negative feelings from earlier and give space to fill your mind with joyous excitement. We are bombarded daily with distressing news. Reserve some time every week to disconnect from social media, tv, the internet, etc., to stay optimistic.

10. Awake your happy hormones

Card games can trigger several chemical and biological reactions that make you feel better. 

Endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin all come into play when you deal the cards out among your friends. These hormones are key factors to better mental health. Collectively, they improve your mood, reduce your stress, increase your concentration, and lead to better sleep — and these are just a few benefits. There’s much more you can gain by waking your happy hormones.

11. Learn to be a good loser

Playing cards can teach you a great deal about fair play and how to lose gracefully. It also helps you to deal with your frustration when you lose, especially after you’ve worked so hard to win. 

Knowing how to be a good loser is a valuable trait for your personal life and your career. It’s essential to learn how to lose because it forces you to improve your skills and leads to long-term wins in the future.

12. Awake your inner child

Do you remember when nobody judged you for splashing in puddles, climbing trees, and dressing up? Being silly and experiencing childhood freedom again through playing cards is an excellent release from a digital world. A game of cards brings you real-life interactions, fun, laughter, and creativity. It makes you feel young again. Who doesn’t want that?

13. Delay degenerative diseases

Card games use different parts of your brain, which has been increasingly important for preventing memory loss and dementia. It’s no surprise that Bridge, one of the card games that require the most skills, is so prominent among seniors. 

University of Wisconsin-Madison study showed that playing some cards game is associated with greater brain volume in areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies also show that recreational activities stimulate nerve growth in the parts of the brain that process emotions and executive functions.

14. Build positive self-esteem

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that promotes pleasure and happiness and can positively affect changes in attitudes. A study from McGill University found that consistently playing games, people with low self-esteem can develop positive thoughts that lead them to become more secure and self-confident.

Card playing poker game night friends
Shutterstock.com

15. All levels of abilities are welcome

There are thousands of card games out there, each targeted to different ability levels. There are accessible games for people with mobility, intellectual, hearing, and visual impairments. It’s an essential tool for therapy treatment as it improves fine motor skills, necessary for people with mental and physical disabilities.

16. Develop your emotional intelligence

All card games require communication — players need to cooperate and understand the rules. As shown above, playing cards improve mental health on several levels. 

Card games can assist people to recognize and manage their emotions. The games prompt players to make decisions that may affect the outcome of the game. Many card games are also designed for psychological treatments and help people identify and name their emotions.

In closing

With card games, players are given the distinct opportunity to interact with others, learn new skills, and cultivate new abilities to manage their mental health. Moreover, they can help you cultivate a lifetime of happiness and lasting connections. Call up your friends, prepare some snacks, and lose track of time playing card games!

+ posts

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.