ChessWe’re all working hard to take care of ourselves and to stay happy and healthy while we’re staying home during the pandemic. But while we’re stretching out our legs on morning walks and eating nutritious meals, it’s important to remember to exercise one of our most vital organs: our brain. We all know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what can we do to nourish our minds? These brain games for seniors will keep you alert and your brain on its toes—all while being entertaining.

Mahjong to try something new

There are hundreds of free brain games available online, from strategy and numbers to puzzles and words, there’s something to fit everyone’s tastes and moods. But if you’d like to try something a little different, you might like Mahjong. Mahjong is an Asian game that has gained popularity all over the world; the goal is to match tiles using strategy. It’s a long game and is best with multiple players. Because of the highly social nature of Mahjong, playing online is a great way to play with people all over the world, and to play with friends and family from the comfort of your home.

Chess to keep you social

Chess is a centuries-old game of strategy, and its ability to withstand the test of time is a testament to its ability to be entertaining and a great exercise for the mind. Playing chess can come with major benefits for the health of your brain. It’s a great way to exercise the parts of your brain that house the skills required for multi-tasking and strategizing; the game is all about thinking about your strategy and hypothesizing about your opponent’s. Playing chess also encourages you to think about the various consequences of each move that is made, and altering your strategy to accommodate the unexpected. This creative way of thinking about “if X happens, then I will do Y” is a stimulating and effective way to exercise your mind. And, since you only need 2 players, chess is an accessible game to play both online and in person.

Words with Friends to connect with friends and family

Not all brain games need to be played on a computer or tabletop. Mobile apps made for phones and tablets offer a wide array of applications that can all be used to exercise your brain, and if you’re looking for games that can also be used to stay in touch with friends and family, Words with Friends could be the game for you. With a lot of similar qualities to Scrabble, Words with Friends requires you to make words out of the lettered tiles you are given, as well as the words that your opponent places on the board. You can chat with your opponents during the game, and it can be played anytime, anywhere. Using mobile apps to play games is a great way to exercise your brain while also staying connected to the rest of the world. Practicing social distancing during the pandemic can be difficult, so finding fun and convenient ways to spend time with friends and family is always a plus.

Sudoku for some Peace and Quiet

If you’d like some time to yourself on a peaceful night, there are plenty of brain games available for you to quiet your thoughts and focus your energy on a brain game like Sudoku. Sudoku stimulates the parts of your brain responsible for pattern recognition and decision-making, and it’s important to exercise those parts because we are creatures of habit. We as humans build patterns and habits with age. We have a patterned and habitual way of doing almost everything: we either pour the milk or the cereal first, we start in one part of the grocery store and work our way out. Habits and patterns do a lot to keep us comfortable, but they do little to stimulate our minds. This is where Sudoku comes in because it’s a brain game that mixes up those patterns. As a game of strategy and logic, Sudoku helps players to think outside the box to solve the problem and unfamiliar pattern in front of them. And, since you can take a step away and come back when your mind is fresh, it’s a great game to turn to pending your convenience and interest.

Jigsaw Puzzles for flexible play and timing

Jigsaw puzzles can be played alone or with others and can take any measure of time, depending on your interest and availability. Jigsaw puzzles are among the most peaceful and calming of brain games you could do, and since these puzzles are non-competitive, they can take on a meditative quality. You can choose the level of difficulty based on your experience, and the puzzles can be done with the help of others, or on your own. Also, unlike other brain games, jigsaw puzzles offer a unique feeling of accomplishment after seeing the finished product.

No matter your mood, amount of free time, or previous experience, there is a wide array of options available to you to exercise the different parts of your brain. Living a happy and healthy lifestyle while practicing social distancing can be challenging, but being mindful of your brain’s health is just as important as getting your daily fresh air and vegetables. From Sudoku to Mahjong, chess to jigsaw puzzles, go ahead and explore the free brain games that you can take advantage of both on and offline.

Article written by Rhianna DeVries