Benefits of Playing Solitaire
Some of the reasons why solitaire became so incredibly popular lie in its multi-faceted benefits, which include improvements to cognitive function and mental wellbeing, as well as hours of fun. Let's take a look at the benefits of playing solitaire under these two categories.
Cognitive Function and Skills
1. Memory Capabilities
One of the core benefits of playing solitaire is improved memory and information retention capabilities. While the effect is not immediately obvious, memory skills are being trained as players unconsciously memorize the suits, numbers and colours of cards dealt. In particular types of solitaire, players may also need to memorise the order and sequences in which cards are dealt or exposed.
2. Planning and Analysis
Solitaire games require players to plan, analyse and calculate all the cards and their details, such as their suits, numbers, where they are located. Players will then need to utilise this information to plan their subsequent moves, spotting sequences to lead them to win. Players will often develop and employ their own strategies to tackling scenarios, improving their strategy-making.
With repetition, these processes help train an individual's mental functions.
As mentioned above, though solitaire isn't as challenging and strategic as games like chess, at times players will still need to devise strategies according to the scenario they're faced with. Improving existing strategies is also important for not only beating the game but also to obtain higher scores than previously. In time, the player strengthens their ability to develop and execute effective strategies.
4. Quick Thinking and Decision-making
Another benefit of playing solitaire is sharpening the ability to think quickly, to make accurate, game-winning decisions. This is particularly true when players are trying to complete the game in the shortest amount of time possible. Though some mistakes won't cost you the game and can be rectified, it is advisable to avoid these as they could length the game time, forcing players to make quick decisions.
Another example is where players have to take a card already in the foundation back into the tableau to remove further cards from the stock deck. This trains players to be more comfortable with the idea of "one step back, two steps forward", and can be incredibly useful in life.
When an individual first starts playing the game, they often try to move cards around quickly without a strategy, though will likely lose from doing so. With practice, players learn to wait for the best opportunity to move cards around - they are learning to delay their gratification and that waiting patiently will increase their chances of victory.
Delay gratification increases resistance to temptation and impulse control, and is useful in many circumstances, including in personal relationships as well as in the business world.
In addition to cognitive function, the nature of solitaire gives calming effects as individuals enter a light meditative state when playing. Many players find solitaire a relaxing activity, relieving stress without too intensive gameplay though still keeping the mind active. Players have something to focus on, allowing them to remain calm and diffuse tension, which will help further relaxation during sleep at night and winding down. Therefore, the best time to play solitaire games would probably be right before bedtime.
In addition, research has shown that being in a calming, meditative state can have an array of social and non-social benefits. An example of such research is Sun, Yao, Wei and Yu's (2015) review on behavioural and neuroimaging studies, which demonstrated that meditation led to improved decision making in both social and non-social settings.
Many individuals find that solitaire games give a great opportunity to appreciate some alone time for reflection away from others. Self-reflection is an invaluable skill and usually involves gentle exploring the day's events, feelings, thoughts and emotions. Thus this skill is key for self-improvement and awareness.
Furthermore, in disconnecting from the world and others, players are free from constantly worrying about the opinions of others, allowing them to de-stress further.
In situations where an individual finds themselves alone and bored, solitaire games provide a great, healthy way to reduce boredom. Studies have noted that extreme boredom can lead to unhealthy side effects and affect one’s mental wellbeing. An example of this is highlighted in an article written by Washington State University (2019). Findings indicated that individuals who felt bored more often were more prone to both anxiety and depression.
And so in keeping the mind busy solitaire helps players stay engaged and healthy. Furthermore, with so many varieties and types of games players have an abundance of choices to keep them entertained.
And lastly... it's fun! Solitaire games are entertaining with players experiencing satisfaction and recreation, particularly during victories!
- Sun, S., Yao, Z., Wei, J., & Yu R. Calm and smart? A selective review of meditation effects on decision making. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. 2015.
- Washing State University. Looking at how the brain reacts to boredom could help people cope. ScienceDaily. 2016.