How many of us out there spent so much time as kids wishing we were grown up, just to find out all that wishing only brought us stress and anxiety? When you feel like you’re meditated and yoga’d out, where else can you turn?
Turns out, board games are actually great for your mental health. Playing board games can decrease stress, bring people together, lower blood pressure, get us laughing, and release endorphins.
While some board games can be outright stressful and overly-thinky, you won’t find any of those super technical or rigid-ruled games here. The goal here is to relax. Whether you want to unwind with friends and family or play solo, we’ve got a game for you. Take a deep breath and check out our list of best board games for relaxation and calm.
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Board Games for Relaxation
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
Playing time: 50mins
Okay, so maybe being met with a bear in the wild may not ease your nerves. But the opportunity to work with these intriguing animals and build an epic home for them might be pretty cool.
In Bärenpark, you’ll play a keeper who loves your bears and wants to create the perfect habitats for your furry friends. You can do this by strategically laying tiles and covering valuable icons to fill your board. Remember, different bears will require different habitats. Expand your habitats and create the best combination of tiles for the ultimate bear park. In the end, will your park thrive and attract all the visitors, or will you bear-ly be scraping by?
This game is great for animal lovers who would love nothing more than to be surrounded by wildlife all day. The puzzle-like gameplay is comforting and the theme isn’t heavy, making it an easy game to pick up in any mood.
Sunset Over Water
Playing time: 20mins
What’s more relaxing than watching a sunset to end a beautiful day? Especially, when that sunset includes breathtaking mountains, a glistening lake, or lush green forest. Sometimes you need to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and head into nature.
As a landscape artist, you will hike into some picturesque scenery to gain inspiration for your paintings. Start the day bright and early and trek through the undisturbed wilderness to meet your daily painting goals. You’ll decide how far you want to hike, how many paintings you’ll create, and when to sell your artwork. Every artist’s goals will be different.
The theme of this game alone is calming. Even though you aren’t actually hiking and painting, the intricately beautiful artwork really brings this game to life. Plus, there are solo rules for those days when you need some time to relax alone.
Playing time: 30mins
In Herbaceous Sprouts, you’ll put your green thumb to use to become the head gardener at your community garden. This dice game is a great way to unwind solo or with a few of your fellow gardeners.
Put on your sunhat and stock the toolshed for all the gardeners. Players then choose their tool of choice and collect seeds to plant flowers and herbs in your garden. Carry out various actions and watch the garden bloom. Work hard to earn a tall, refreshing glass of lemonade as you kick back and admire your blossoming garden.
The gentle blue and green colors of the game emanate a sense of peacefulness and calmness. The colors are capable of reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and reducing stress while symbolizing nature, so this is a great game to play to wind down after a stressful day.
Playing time: 45-60mins
Origin is an abstract game about the expansion of humankind across Earth. Over time, mankind’s diversity will grow and spread across the land, while forever remembering their unifying roots.
Humanity will start in central Africa and evolve outwards piece by piece. The pieces can be grouped by characteristics of color, height, and strength. Each turn, one of three actions can be made: players can evolve by distributing a new piece to a region adjacent to an already occupied region, you can migrate by moving a piece already on the board to an empty region, or players can displace their opponents and take over their region in a swap.
Each of these actions has its own rules as to which pieces can perform the actions and how it can be done. For certain moves, players will also receive cards and tiles to advance their technologies and earn points.
Although this game shows the natural evolution and dispersing patterns of people, playing with friends and family can bring you closer and give off those feel-good endorphins. It’s a great way to connect with those around you and strengthen a bond, putting your mood at ease.
Playing time: 45mins
In this game, the journey is more important than the destination. Take your time and enjoy traveling across Japan in Tokaido. After all, travel is all about collecting experiences, capturing the moment, and taking in the views, right?
Players traverse the country eating delicious food, collecting souvenirs, visiting temples, and chatting with locals along the way. Your pace is up to you, and moving slower could mean a more diverse adventure. So, marvel at the stunning panoramas and soak in the relaxing hot springs. The traveler with the most compelling adventure at the end of their travels is the winner.
From simple aesthetics to leisurely gameplay itself, Tokaido is a very zen game. It’s about creating your own best journey, without comparing yours to someone else’s — which is a skill we could take from this game into the real world.
Playing time: 30mins
They say nature is medicine. So, fill your day with sunlight and a wander through the forest. The climate is just right, and you’re feeling like luck is on your side for a plentiful mushroom harvest.
Morels is a cute 2-player game that will have you gallivanting through the forest day and night in search of delectable mushrooms. How you choose to use the mushrooms is up to you. You can spruce them up and eat them for flavor points or sell them to the locals, who can give you advice on hunting. Some mushrooms are valuable while others are outright deadly, so be careful!
Morels uses strategy, but it isn’t an overly fast-paced or intense game, so it’s a great game to play to keep game night calm. The delicately illustrated artwork is bright and fun and keeps the mood light.
Playing time: 20-60mins
Calling all tea lovers. We have the perfect game for you. In Chai, you will act as a tea merchant, and step up your tea game by mixing your favorite teas to create the perfect blend.
Each turn, players have three choices. They can visit the market to purchase flavor tiles to tweak their teas. Or, they can head to the pantry to grab additives like sugar, milk, and honey. Lastly, players may reserve a customer, so no other players can serve him. Use your turns wisely to collect the right combination of ingredients to brew a better cup than your opponents and earn hefty tips.
Chai is a gateway game, so it’s easy to learn and pick up. You won’t find overly complicated, frustrating rules that will make you lose your cool. So, grab a cup of your favorite tea and sit down with this chill game.
Playing time: 45mins
The story of Takenoko begins with a peace offering and your job is to care for this precious gift — a giant panda. In this tile placement game, you will practice your farming skills and tend to the panda’s bamboo garden. You’ll need to work hard to keep this important animal satisfied, as pandas spend a great deal of their life chomping on luscious bamboo.
Expand the garden tile by tile and choose which type of bamboo you want to grow. Take special care to cultivate the land and water the bamboo to grow as much as possible. Players will need to find a balance between managing their plots while simultaneously feeding the panda’s insatiable appetite.
Takenoko is a beautiful board game complete with adorable miniature bamboo plants, panda, and farmer. Maintain the peace and let out a couple of laughs with the light-hearted theme of this game to get those endorphins flowing.
Playing time: 45-60mins
Cottage Garden is another game that allows you to grow a blooming garden without getting your hands dirty. Next time you’re stuck inside on a rainy day and can’t get into your real garden, this can be a relaxing game to play as you listen to the calming sound of raindrops pitter-pattering on the window.
Players will build vivacious gardens using Tetris-like pieces, as they try to fill their flowerbeds from wall to wall. Spaces can be filled with colorful flowers, flower pots, or even a sweet, playful kitty. When your bed is full, your garden is complete and you can count your points. Proper management of your tiles and crafty tile placement will lead you to victory.
This game isn’t overly interactive and can have a puzzle-like feel as you strategically lay pieces to create beautiful arrangements of colorful flowers. Although you will need to strategize a bit, it still has a light, soothing theme and can be easily taught to just about anyone.
Once Upon a Time
Playing time: 30mins
If our lives all came with “happily ever after” cards, we’d probably all naturally be a bit more relaxed and this list wouldn’t need to exist. Unfortunately, life isn’t a fairy tale, but it can be fun to get creative and make one of your own.
Once Upon a Time is a storytelling game where players will use their cards to create a fairy tale. Integrate typical fairy tale elements like characters, places, and events to get the other players captivated by your story. Everyone has their own definition of happily ever after, and you’ll work to direct the plot to reach your particular ending. Players can use their interruption cards to take over your story and give it a drastic turn as they try to reach their own happily ever after.
Will your story have the best ingredients to create the perfect happily ever after potion?
Stories can be dark and serious or silly and outrageous. It’s all in how you choose to deliver your fable. With no intense rules or complicated playing, this game is easy as sitting down for storytime to unwind from the day.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best board games for relaxation and calm! There’s nothing better after a long day than unwinding with your favorite beverage and a calming board game. These games are sure to rejuvenate your mind and spirit while giving your brain a bit of exercise too.
Have you tried any of these board games? Did we miss any of your zen favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.
Liz has no objections to being referred to as “nerdy.” Maybe it’s the educator in her — or her maturity level— but when it comes to board games, those best suited for children are the ones that spark her interest. When she’s not looking for the next game to incorporate into the classroom or play with her niece and nephew, you can find her trying out nature-themed games like Wildcraft or Trekking the National Parks.