Remember, if you will, what it felt like to play Life or Scrabble or Yahtzee or Hearts as a young child. Can you picture yourself there, on your friend’s living room rug, hopping on your knees from the excitement of winning, the anxiety of losing, or the anticipation of the next round?
Well guess what? These feelings of oxytocin-producing exuberance, this heightened and exhilarating experience of competing with friends are still available to you as an adult. Better yet? They’re good for your brain.
Yes, playing board games with your friends and/or loved ones––or what scientist refer to as engaging with others in “stimulating leisure activities”––has been shown to offer “possible protective factors against dementia and cognitive decline.”
What does this mean for you practically? Simple. Plan a game night with some friends. Literally any game will do, whether mahjong or Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity or a simple game of Go Fish. What matters is not the type of game itself but rather the act of playing that game with others, to reap the benefits of both social interaction and exercising your cognitive muscles trying to win.