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Playing games: Indoor and outdoor activities with family help combat ‘pandemic fatigue’

Since the pandemic is at its potential peak, social distancing will continue through the winter. Since isolation will be the norm through the season, a great way to connect and pass time is through board games and backyard contests.

“Games are a very positive way for families to connect,” Spokane child psychologist Dr. Leslie Blevins said from her South Hill office. “Games act like a buoy for children. There’s a sense of security that comes from playing games.

“There’s positive emotion and shared enjoyment with family members. Every game has its strong suit. Some are good psychologically, and some are good cognitively. We need the levity that the shared enjoyment from a game can provide.”

Since children’s days have been disrupted by the pandemic, regularly scheduled games are a way to bring more structure to their day. “There are so many positives if you know games will be played on a certain day and time,” Blevins said. “It gives families something to look forward to.”

Games are a great way to deal with what Blevins dubs “pandemic fatigue.”

“There really is such a thing,” she said. “There is so much boredom for children who feel so isolated. So, if they get together with their mom and dad and compete with games, it’s a great situation. For the last nine months, children have been bored. If they sit around the table, talk and laugh, it’ll help in so many ways.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Shep Salusky agrees about the positive impact of games. “This might seem like an odd analogy, but look at those who faired well as prisoners of war,” Salusky said while calling from his Seattle office. “They stimulated their minds. Games stimulate people, and there is a feeling of accomplishment, particularly if you play a game like chess.”

Salusky believes that games played in person trump virtual contests. “If you have the ability to play a board game in person, that’s better for your mental health than playing someone in a video game virtually. However, video games, particularly during a pandemic, aren’t terrible.

“It still is a way of connecting. But you get more benefit playing a board game with someone in person. A game like Scrabble is great, but any board game is a positive to play. There are so many board games out there.”

There are a plethora of options, and there are a number of new board contests. Let the games begin.

For those seeking a mental jolt, check out “Brainwaves.” It’s a series of games developed by designers and neuroscientists with the hope of synapse stimulation. Players’ episodic memory is challenged. The card-based game exercises the brain and improves memory. (Ages 8+, $14.95)

One of the more fun games of the season is “What’s Wrong With Grown-Up?” It’s an intergenerational card game that engages kids with adults. More than 500 question card games create a two-way dialogue that spans generations. Parents can ask questions and, best of all, make connections. (All ages, $24.99)

Fledgling artists should enjoy “Sagrada,” which enables you to use tools to construct a stained glass window. Players take turns drafting glass pieces represented by dice. Carefully choose where to place each piece in their window. It’s not a paint-by-numbers contest. You can craft something unique. (Ages 6+, $39.95)

“Flip Over Frog” features brightly colored frogs trying to take control of the rainforest. Cleverly place your frog tiles, causing those around you to flip face down or face up. When all squares are occupied, the game ends, and the player with the most face-up frogs is the winner. (Ages 6+, $15)

If your family heads to the park or goes camping, there are outdoor games that will help pass the time. “Axe-Throwing” will help you connect with your inner lumberjack. It’s a lightweight and compact axe-throwing game. The blade of each axe is fitted with a “gripper” strip that sticks to the target. A suction cup and hanging loop make for easy mounting. (All ages, $34.95)

Who doesn’t like cornhole? The cornhole table set features two midsize game boards with foldout legs that convert into low camp tables. It’s convenient and a blast. (All ages, $79.95)

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