Can Solitaire Games Improve Your Mental Health?

Also known as patience, cabale and klondike solitaire this single-player card game first appeared in Europe in the early 1700s. The oldest known collection of patience games was published in Russia in 1826. Similar games soon appeared in Germany, France and Scandinavia.

The Scandinavian version is called cabale, and cabale means secret knowledge in French. The secret knowledge revealed by the cards was used by ancient seers in divination to answer important questions and to provide essential guidance.

Can Solitaire Games Improve Your Mental Health?

When Windows 3.0 was released in 1990, a free version of solitaire was installed in its operating system to help users learn to navigate a mouse. Solitaire has been an online hit ever since. It was recently inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

Solitaire: Because It’s Good for You

Games like klondike solitaire can improve your mental health by helping you to relax and unwind. There are other benefits as well:

Relieves anxiety

Many mental health disorders are triggered by extreme stress and anxiety. If you focus on that, you’ll feel overwhelmed, helpless, angry, powerless and victimized.

When you focus on solving a solitaire deck, you are taking actionable steps to reach a predetermined goal. That makes you feel empowered, and the more empowered you feel, the less likely you are to have a panic attack.

Sharpens cognition

Getting through a day with dense brain fog can be a frustrating experience. Clear thinking is essential for sound decision-making. Fuzzy thinking can distort your perceptions and cause you to make poor judgments. A solitaire session can help to clear away the cobwebs.

Improves organizational abilities

Solitaire challenges you to make order out of chaos by moving a random spread of cards into four orderly stacks. Because every game is different, you are constantly challenged to implement new strategies.

Winning this game can be very reassuring when you’re feeling off-balance, incompetent or brain-dead.

Teaches patience

Klondike solitaire, also called patience, is not an easy game to win. You can play game after game and lose every time. In that situation, you must practice patience and make the most of every opportunity the cards present.

To enhance your solitaire experience, you can use the undo button to find out which plays would work best in the current tableau. However, there’s no way to know if those plays will be beneficial later in the game.

The saving grace is that when you do win, you’ll win more than enough to make up for all the games you lost.

Elevates mood

Short solitaire sessions can clear your mind, soothe your spirit and improve your mood. Playing the game reduces anxiety and helps you to feel calm and focused. When anxiety and stress are relieved, you can’t help but feel better.

According to Psychology Today, solitaire helps players to enter a state of flow. “Flow is a cognitive state where one is completely immersed in an activity—from painting and writing to prayer and surfboarding. It involves intense focus, creative engagement, and the loss of awareness of time and self.”

Boosts memory

Solitaire helps players to develop short-term memory. Researchers tell us that people who play games can learn, cycle, store and review data faster than those who don’t.

Expands observational ability

Missing a move in solitaire because you don’t see it happens more often than you might think. It’s entirely possible to miss moves that are literally staring you in the face.

Failing to make a crucial move because you don’t see it can keep you from winning the game. It all depends on how the missed plays impact the current arrangement of cards.

To be an effective solitaire player, you need well-developed observational skills. You have to be aware of all possible plays at any given moment.

Fosters mindfulness

Researchers have found that solitaire can enhance mindfulness by putting you into a meditative state. Mindfulness means being fully present in the now moment and fully aware of your actions and surroundings.

Mindfulness can reduce work-related burnout, improve overall mental health and help you make sounder decisions. These findings have been well-documented by researchers.

Nurtures creativity

In a study at the University of Amsterdam, researchers compared mindfulness qualities like observational skills, attention with awareness and powers of description with creative qualities like frequency of ideas, flexible thinking and innovation.

In the first study, students with high attention with awareness had fewer new ideas and scored lower on originality.

In a second study, the team looked at how observational abilities, descriptive powers and acceptance without judgment interacted with creativity.

They found that strong observational skills were linked to creativity, originality and flexible thinking. Descriptive powers and acceptance without judgment had no effect on creativity or originality.

Two additional studies published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin revealed that individuals with strong observational skills had higher levels of creativity.

The researchers emphasized that only certain mindful traits are thought to enhance creativity. If you want to be more creative, focus on sharpening your observational skills. Avoid practicing attention with full awareness. It can drain your creativity instead of expanding it.

Regular participation in mindful activities like solitaire can reduce anxiety, relieve depression and alleviate stress. Creative pursuits that encourage mindfulness can even help you to safely process trauma. A game of solitaire takes us away from the world for a while, and that makes us feel better. The better we feel, the healthier we become.

Can I Get Addicted to Solitaire?

An addiction is a behavior that persists even though it results in serious consequences for you and your loved ones. You want to stop, but you can’t. Real addiction controls your life. It drives you, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

Christopher Ferguson, a clinical psychologist at Stetson University, reminds us that there’s a big difference between passion and addiction, even though it’s easy to confuse them.

Before you decide to give up solitaire because you might get addicted, remember that this game comes with benefits you won’t get from watching television.