Solitaire – originally known as ‘Patience’ – has been around since the end of the 18th century. It is suspected that the game possibly originated as a form of fortune-telling.
Today, we have come to know solitaire as the fun, single player card
game that can boost our cognitive health and make us more productive. If you owned a Microsoft computer in the 1990s, you might remember Microsoft Solitaire, a digital implementation of Solitaire that brought it onto everyone’s radar.
While most of us play Microsoft games much less than we used to – if at all – due to the huge number of video games that have become available in the years since, there are actually still many cognitive benefits of playing solitaire that you might not be aware of.
Here are a few reasons why playing solitaire is a much better option than Fortnite or Call of Duty for improving your cognitive health and productivity:
1. It improves our focus
When it comes to planning out how we spend our work breaks, there are many distracting options available to us. The most tempting thing to do is to opt for the most mind-numbing option we can think of that allows us to just sit and vegetate in front of our screen – think Netflix, YouTube, TikTok. A June 2021 study revealed that users are watching over 24 hours of content per month on TikTok (that’s a lot of mindless scrolling).
We gain very little from watching these videos, since passively watching content doesn’t benefit us in any way. In fact, it might even be making us more tired.
Spending our downtime actively using our brain by playing a stimulating game such as Spider Solitaire keeps our brain switched on, and keeps us more focused, which means we’re more switched on when it comes to going back to work or concentrating on a difficult task.
2. It makes us more strategic and improves our short-term memory skills
Solitaire is a game of skill, not luck. The more we play it, the more our brain develops connections to improve our strategy and skill to make us better for the next time we play.
And these new connections don’t just help us improve at solitaire – they help us in virtually any activity where strategy is involved.
Remembering the cards in a game of Solitaire can also improve our short-term memory skills, which can help us retain more information over a short period of time.
3. It allows us to take some downtime
Given that more and more of us are spending long periods of time working online, and many of us are employed in the gig economy, it can be difficult to remember that we need to take downtime. When our income is linked to how much we work, it can feel tempting to increase our workload more and more, and neglect to take breaks.
However, working long hours without breaks can lead to exhaustion. If we’re not careful, it can even lead to burn out that can decrease our productivity in the long term. It can also lead to long-term health complications, and it can even shorten our lifespan. Playing calming, brain-stimulating games like solitaire can combat this.
Given that solitaire is a single-player activity, it also allows us to experience some uninterrupted alone time – something that is becoming extremely important, yet very underrated, in our increasingly interconnected world.
4. It calms our minds
Solitaire has often been compared to light meditation because of the calming effect it has on the mind. Meditation has numerous psychological benefits, and can prevent our mind from wandering by bringing us back to the present moment. If you’re feeling anxious, meditation can actually make you feel worse. Research has shown that sitting quietly with your thoughts can actually cause our mind to rebel.
Sometimes, having something that we can focus on that doesn’t require heavy thinking can actually be even more helpful for us than just sitting still and doing nothing. In turn, calming our minds can help us with decision-making and make us more productive at work.
Now that you know of some of the benefits of solitaire, why not give it a try during your next work break?
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