Board games can be a great, fun way to relax and wind down in the evenings. Playing a board game is a good way to reduce stress as it can be calming and an easy way to socialize.
It’s no coincidence that many of these board games are Asian-inspired (Zen) and nature-themed, as both help to center, relax, and relieve anxiety. Playing a board game can be an exciting way to spend quality time with friends and family, these games can lead to interesting conversations and debates on random topics too.
So, focus on your breathing, and let’s glide gently into our list of the best mindfulness board games.
Table of Contents
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Mindfulness Board Games
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Top 10 Best Mindfulness Board Games
Playing time: 30-45 min
Cascadia is a board game based around the wild animals and habitats of the Pacific Northwest. In this game, players are in competition with one another to build the most diverse environment with the habitat tiles and their wildlife tokens. The player with the most points at the end is the winner.
This game is great for a person’s mental health and wellbeing as it is nature-themed which can be very calming to people. Cascadia can be played as a solo game so if you don’t have a gaming group, you can take your mind off things by diving into the interesting mechanics and beautiful artwork on your own to relax and wind down once in a while.
Tokaido is set in Japan. Each player will travel the East Sea Road, stopping at different locations getting points or money — whether they be from souvenirs, farms, or the temple. The player who is last in line gets to play first, deciding whether to play slowly, which will result in more turns (meaning more points) or to move at a fast pace and arrive first.
Playing Tokaido illustrates the importance of taking it slow and not comparing yourself to other people. Although everyone is going at different paces, the end results are roughly the same. This is a good thing to remember in life. The mood of this game is very relaxed and calming which is good for helping you feel comfortable and happy within your mind. The illustrations in this game are also very enjoyable.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
Lanterns is based around harvest festivals. The starting lake tile goes in the center. The player with the red lantern card gets the start, each player gets a turn order card and three lake tiles from the stack. The aim of the game is to get sets of lantern cards so you can trade them in for points.
This game is tactical and engaging, allowing players to exercise their minds as it is both calming and appealing. Focusing on solving problems is a good way to get centered and improve emotional health. It involves critical thinking which is also a good mindfulness practice as it requires players to think through a situation before following through with it.
Playing time: 30-60 min
PARKS is a board game set in the United States national parks. In this game, players hike different roads throughout each season of the year. Each trail/road represents a different season. Players can gain memories at each place they visit. They can trade in their memory tokens at the national parks at the end.
Playing PARKS evokes positive emotions like joy and a sense of calm as players make their way through nature and the environment. Even just looking at scenes of nature can reduce stress and anxiety. The illustrations in this game show us beautiful images of waterfalls, wildlife, and much more.
Playing time: 40-80 min
Everdell is a tableau-building and worker placement board game in which players take on the roles of a group of critters in the valley of Everdell. It is a woodland game in which you have to construct new buildings, host events, and meet other players. Each player is focused on building a city and populating it.
For players struggling with their mental well-being, Everdell gives you the responsibility of a group, making you feel in control and of value. Everdell also involves critical thinking which has a positive advantage on a person’s mental health.
This game can be played as a solo game, which can be a good opportunity to do something positive that is entertaining for yourself during your free time.
Playing time: 50-100 min
Lowlands is a farming board game in which players are in a constant struggle against the unforgiving environment. On the harsh coast of the North Sea, players work to build a successful farm which earns them points, but while you should focus on your farm, there is also a common dike that needs to be developed. Helping to fortify this dike will protect all players from the rising waters that threaten to destroy your farms.
Lowlands reminds us of the importance of not only thinking about ourselves in a situation but also about the common good. While it is important to work on your own farm for maximum victory points, if the dike is not high enough, everyone’s work will be destroyed. Thinking of others and focusing on survival can remind us to be mindful and appreciate everything we have.
Players: 2-4 (best with 4)
Playing time: 45 min
In Kanagawa, players take on the roles of art disciples in 19th century Japan. Following the teachings of Master Hokusai, the painting you’re creating is determined by your starting card. Playing cards with matching symbols earns you points and the player with the most points at the end wins.
Art and artistic creativity are incredible outlets for achieving mindfulness and a general state of well-being. Kanagawa’s art and creative space give players a safe environment to improve mental stability and let their creativity shine. Relax and let go with Kanagawa.
Players: 1-4 (best with 2)
Playing time: 30-45 min
Based on the exquisite Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, this game challenges players to design their own stained-glass window with dice on their player boards. The shade and color of the dice differ, depending on what board you have and where dice can be placed on the board. The same color or shade dice can never be put beside each other. To win the game, you must have the window with the highest score. More complex patterns and creative dice placement can get you extra points.
Playing Sagrada with a good group of friends is an excellent way to boost your mood, balance your mind, and generally improve your sense of well-being. The bright colors and positive vibe of the game, combined with the tactical strategy of dice placement, all work together to create a mindful atmosphere of calm enjoyment all around.
Playing time: 15-20 min
Players become dragons in Tsuro’s methodical puzzle. The main aim of this game is to keep your token on the board longer than any other player. This can become more difficult as the game goes on as there are fewer free spaces.
In this game, you are not the master of your own fate. Player’s tokens must travel the path in front of them, making it harder as the game continues, and players start to run out of room. Players get kicked out of the game by getting flying off the edge board or crashing into another player.
Tsuro reminds us that we are not always in charge of what happens next in life and sometimes we maybe just need to “go with the flow”.
Letting go is the first step in achieving mindfulness and is important for psychological well-being as it reminds us that it is okay to not always be in control. We do not always need to know what will happen next in life and sometimes the universe will just figure it out for us.
Playing time: 30 min
Let’s take a trip to the rainforest. Players draft cards to create their own rainforest, but it must be an appealing, diverse environment and have a wide selection of wildlife. Flora and Fauna must be balanced to ensure that the rainforest can develop properly. Players can draft different elements into their rainforest with cards — but these cards can also have bad things on them such as fire, disease, and drought.
Canopy is the perfect game for mindfulness and meditation especially when it comes to nature and balance. Building something beautiful, despite good and bad cards, is a relaxing way to center yourself and focus on the positives that life (and games) can throw your way. No matter what comes next, everything will work out in the end.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best mindfulness board games for mental health! Center yourself with these beautiful, nature-themed, and Zen-inspired board games.
Have you tried any games on this list? Did we miss any games that you think should be added to the list? Drop a comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.
Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages. She is also a professional content writer at SlashGear.com