The Top 10 Psychological Benefits of Playing Solitaire

By Neal Taparia - Last updated: 11/15/2023

Solitaire is one of the most well-known card games in the world, but what does it do other than pass the time? Whether you're playing Klondike Solitaire, or other popular versions like Spider Solitaire or Freecell Solitaire, the game imparts a number of healthy psychological benefits each time you play a game.

1. It keeps you busy

Solitaire’s primary benefit is that it can keep you busy during times of extreme boredom. The mind grows weary and agitated if it has nothing to do, which is why Solitaire has been one of the greatest worker’s escapes since it made its way onto the Windows operating system. Escaping boredom is good no matter how you do it, as boredom can have several unhealthy side effects.

2. It helps with cognitive stimulation and memory

Studies have suggested that engaging in cognitive exercise like Solitaire can be beneficial in delaying the onset of memory-related ailments such as Alzheimer's, and generally preserving mental capabilities in elderly people. The game forces you to think as you sequence and remember cards in order to win.

3. It gives you alone time

Solitaire provides you with some time to reflect by yourself. Even those of us who are more gregarious or extroverted still need time to simmer down and let the day’s interactions or decisions sink in. Self-reflection is a valuable skill and an important part of mental health. Time alone is time where your brain can truly unwind and doesn’t have to process the opinions of others, which is a form of mental stress whether you appreciate another’s company or not.

4. It calms the mind

Solitaire is also a great game for calming the mind because it puts you in a light meditative state. This is especially true for those who tend to worry or suffer from anxiety frequently. Solitaire gives the mind something to focus on, particularly in times of low action when the opportunity to fret is high. Keeping calm by focusing on a low-risk game like Solitaire is an excellent way to diffuse any tension in your mind or body and help you enjoy your day or get to sleep better at night. Even better, studies have shown that entering a calm, meditative state, like the one enjoyed as you play Solitaire, can improve your decision-making.

5. It develops strategic thinking

Solitaire also helps you develop your critical thinking, as well as improving your mental functions overall. Every layout in Solitaire is a new puzzle to solve, and layouts are very unlikely to repeat. Players are constantly faced with decisions on which cards to move, when to draw from the deck, and when to shuffle the tableau. These choices hone players’ problem-solving skills, teaching them to approach obstacles methodically and strategize effectively. There may be more than one approach to solving the puzzle, but you need to be constantly aware of your next moves and avoid blocking yourself with no more remaining moves.

6. It teaches delayed gratification

Oftentimes, when starting to learn to play Solitaire, newbies will move cards around as fast as possible, building stacks and moving piles without any heed to overall the strategy. But the better move is often to wait before moving stacks of cards around until the right opportunity presents itself. This teaches delayed gratification, which often results in a better chance to win. Delayed gratification is useful not only in personal affairs but in business or work decisions as well. Unfortunately, not enough people learn this skill as children.

7. It fosters independence

As the name suggests, it is primarily a game for one. While multiplayer card games have their own set of benefits, Solitaire games require self-reliance and independence coming from a solo game. It teaches you to rely on their intuition and judgment without external input, helping you overcome second-guessing yourself.

One of the less-discussed benefits of Solitaire is also its potential for introspection. The solitude provided by the game creates a perfect space for reflection and self-awareness. As players go through the deck of cards, they typically find themselves deep in thought. The game becomes a meditative journey where you can reassess your life choices, and ponder over decisions, or simply get in touch with your inner emotions and feelings. For many, this time spent alone with the cards becomes a great opportunity for personal growth and self-understanding, adding yet another layer to the therapeutic value of solitaire.

8. It promotes mindfulness

Solitaire can also encourage mindfulness. Today’s fast-paced world requires a lot of multitasking to manage, but solitaire can offer a sanctuary for single-task focus. The game requires attention to detail and concentration, demanding players to immerse themselves in the present moment to look for answers, promoting mental clarity and grounding.

9. It teaches patience and perseverance

Solitaire often takes time to win. Sometimes, the game can stretch on for hours, requiring the players to reset and try again multiple times before they succeed. This process teaches patience, reminding players of the value of persistence in overcoming challenges. When translated to real-life situations, these skills can be invaluable, and playing solitaire is a great way to train them.

There’s an undeniable sense of satisfaction that comes from completing a game of Solitaire. The challenge the game presents, especially in variants where the odds of winning are lower, makes the victory even sweeter. These moments of achievement can boost your self-esteem and self-confidence, giving players a solid morale boost whenever they are completed. This can also have a profound therapeutic effect on the players’ daily lives.

10. It's fun!

You can’t forget the primary psychological benefit of Solitaire: it’s just a fun game to play. The primary purpose of all games is to facilitate recreation, which is a fancier way of saying enjoying life. Playing Solitaire is always a great time, and it feeds the part of you that desires happiness, especially when you win. This reason, above all, is why Solitaire has remained in popularity so many years.

About the author

Neal Taparia is one of the founders of Solitaired. He loves playing card games and is interested in understanding how games can help with brain training and skills building. In addition to card games, he also likes fishing and mountain biking.

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