We all know that card games such as Indian Rummy and poker make us feel good, but did you know that there is scientific evidence to prove it? Yes, that’s right, scientists discovered that card games are not only fun but also, have a positive impact on our mental health. It’s a fact that many of you will no doubt be delighted to hear.
But what is it about card games that’s so great? While we can win a little money at the poker or blackjack tables, there’s a little more to it than cash and the thrill of winning. Studies show that there is a link between cognitive abilities and card games and that this link could be one of the best ways to slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Because of this research, there has been a change in people’s attitudes toward card games and the people that play them regularly. And for those of us who love to play, it’s a breath of fresh air to know that the games we love are indeed good for us in so many ways. Let’s take a closer look at why now that we know they’re good for us.
Caregivers in retirement homes will tell you that one way to keep their patients’ minds sharp is to play card games, such as cribbage, poker, bridge and even snap. These games help exercise various parts of the brain associated with memory, reaction times and focus. They are particularly good for helping with short-term memory, as they encourage players to pay attention to the game by following other players’ moves. Perhaps that would explain why people with Alzheimer’s or dementia benefit so much from card games.
Cards also help you train your brain to deal with problems, honing your math skills in the process. And since few of us like to study math, this is an excellent hidden benefit to playing.
When was the last time you remember playing cards? The chances are it’s a happy memory you’re having right now, and that’s because playing card games also help us emotionally. Every game that we play we learn something new, either about ourselves as a player or about the game. And as humans, we are programmed to want to learn, and when we learn, we’re happy.
This process of personal development gives us a feeling of accomplishment (more on that later) and a sense of worth. It also boosts our confidence while simultaneously improving our thinking process. And yes, you guessed it, all these things tend to make us feel wonderful about ourselves, and self-worth is, of course, a significant contributing factor for happiness.
According to a study by Oxford Economics, people who eat alone are more likely to be unhappy, which underlines the importance of social interaction whenever possible. Card games by their nature encourage social interaction. Okay, so perhaps at the poker table we may keep our thoughts to ourselves, but generally, we like to socialize when we play cards.
We can even enjoy the social benefits of card games without leaving our home or inviting friends around for a quick game. And how is this? With online poker, of course. Joining an online poker platform or becoming a member of a group or forum also allows you to socialize with new people. Did you know that people who game online are better at socializing? Yes, it’s true. Gamers even have better relationships with family, with studies showing that 82 percent of them consider spending time with family a priority.
But back to cards and socializing. Regular games give those struggling with feelings of loneliness something to look forward to or anticipate. This implementation of a social routine can indeed help control mood disorders and may also have a positive effect on those dealing with depression.
Feelings of Accomplishment
Now, what about those feelings of accomplishment we mentioned earlier. Normally, we associate winning with feeling accomplished, but the truth is that mastering the rules of games like poker and bridge is enough to give us that warm glow and understandably so. The rules of many card games are quite complicated, and when you factor in strategies and the various hands you need to memorize, even playing is an achievement.
Coping with Loss
As strange as it might sound, one of the best things a card game can teach you is how to lose. Even professional poker players will only have a win percentage of about 50–60 percent, proving that losing isn’t all bad. Learning from your loss, however, makes the difference.
Regular card players know that to enjoy playing and get the most out of the game, they need to lose with composure. They ignore feelings of frustration, control their temper and try again. Those are some critical life skills right there and ones that you can easily pick up from taking up a card playing hobby.
Relaxation and Stress Relief
When you want to relax and unwind, the TV or your smartphone are probably the worst things you can turn to for relaxation. They are consistent reminders about the stressful things in your life while the news is rarely enjoyable to watch. A game of cards, on the other hand, is the perfect stress reliever.
The simple act of playing and focusing on the game allows you to forget your worries and enjoy yourself. Add to that your social interaction and lack of pressure, and you have the perfect stress reliever, except maybe for snap — that game is hectic.
So, as you can see, playing cards can have a significantly positive effect on your mental health. It promotes happiness, encourages social interaction and gives your brain a much-needed workout. And that’s before we even get to those feelings of accomplishment. So, the next time someone tells you that you’re wasting your time playing cards, tell them all that you learned here today. Now, we’re off for a few games of Indian Rummy to relieve a bit of stress, of course!