We know what you’re thinking. Jigsaw puzzles? What am I, 80? Well, hopefully you will be someday. So why not mentally prepare for it. Admittedly, jigsaw puzzles have a reputation as the domain of either the very old, the very young, or the incurably nerdy. To which we say: Yeah, so? Some started a podcast and made sourdough during the pandemic; we started a healthy addiction to puzzles. And with good reason: The act of doing jigsaw puzzles has myriad health benefits, some of which may surprise you.
Are jigsaw puzzles good for your brain?
Brain games are not only entertaining, but essential to maintaining cognition. Whether you play Wordle, Sudoku or Pieceword (you may know this as a jigsaw crossword), keeping your brain engaged and active throughout your life is crucial, no matter your age. People should challenge themselves with jigsaw puzzles as soon as possible. There is no age that is too young. Like exercise, it’s never too late to start.
Individuals with normal cognition can delay or prevent cognitive decline by keeping their minds active daily, whether that includes reading a book, solving a jigsaw puzzle or crosswords or playing Sudoku. Studies show that structured brain training is beneficial for people who have cognitive impairment or mild to moderate dementia.
You want to do activities you enjoy because that means you’re going to actually do them, but you also should do activities that push your cognition and thinking. Continue to push your limits by doing something that is stretching your mind and increasing in difficulty - like these super fun and difficult jigsaw puzzles for adults.
Studies find that people tend to engage with mind games they do well on, and that has less of an impact on maintaining or improving cognition. Doing the same difficulty level of a jigsaw puzzle will not be as effective as doing one that increases in difficulty.
You should engage in cognitive activities on a regular basis. People who are either concerned about cognitive decline or have cognitive decline but are hoping to slow the progression should be mentally, socially and physically active daily.
Read a book, work on a jigsaw puzzle, do a crossword puzzle, learn a foreign language, cook a new recipe, listen to music or play chess or bridge. Watching television does not stimulate the mind. Find a way to start engaging socially. The isolation people have experienced over the last few years has had a significant impact on cognition, especially in older adults. Reengage in a way that feels safe. Interact with family, have a phone call with a friend, host a jigsaw puzzle games night.
The many health benefits of jigsaw puzzles
1. Jigsaw puzzles improve analytic skills and attention to detail
Nowadays, strong analytical skills are highly valued. We use these skills in our professional spheres. The ability to think critically, analyse data, solve complex problems is much required. This ability helps us achieve our goals better. But what activities can help us enhance our analytical skills? Puzzles! Jigsaw puzzles are creative and fun. Scientists claim that “learn through play” approach is one of the most effective ones. Moreover, puzzles don’t require a lot of motivation to get started.
2. They sharpen problem-solving skills
Our life is a trail-and-error exercise, isn’t it? And experience is the best teacher. We can move forward and achieve more only with actions. But what about a fear of making decisions? What can help you cope with it? Puzzling is a choice process. You have tons of variants to choose from: put this piece here or there. Jigsaws help us gain the confidence to take risks, keep going and be creative with the problem solving strategy.
3. Puzzling is a great social activity
Are you feeling lonely and depressed in this puzzling world? Are you a newbie at work? Are you too shy to talk to neighbours? Our wellbeing is based not only on health, but also on social connections. We need to be in touch with other people, communicate and share, what we feel. Various activities can strength social connections. For example, jigsaw puzzles! Puzzling is a thing for anyone. Bring a jigsaw puzzle to a party, host a puzzle night, start a puzzle tournament with your colleagues. Puzzling unites and can help you get to know people better.
4. They improve your focus and concentration skills
In our digital world, we constantly switch from one activity to another. We are blasted with gadgets and frequent phone calls. As a result we can’t focus the mind on the things we do. Low concentration affects productivity. It takes longer to get the work done and maintain goals and routines. Psychotherapists advise us to improve concentration skills with activity, which can make you easily focus on the moment. Puzzling is a fun, easy-to-get and effective activity for everyone. Picking small pieces one by one helps you stay concentrated on one task. Jigsaw puzzles improve short memory.
5. They decrease stress levels—and improve your mood
Did you know the brain goes into a near dreamlike state when assembling a puzzle? Exercising both sides of the brain simultaneously also allows the brain to move from a Beta state, the wakeful mind, into an “Alpha” state, the same mental state experienced while dreaming. The Alpha state is where we tap into our subconscious mind. Jigsaw puzzles naturally induce this state of creative, focused meditation, where connections can be made on deeper levels.
The rush you get from doing and completing puzzles is not just in your head. Well it is—but the pleasure and satisfaction you feel is backed by science.
While individual moments of puzzling may be temporarily—and mildly—frustrating, the overall experience of puzzle-solving is mood-boosting. Every time you put a piece in the right place, your brain releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes you feel more happy and alert. Dopamine causes improved motor skills, an increase in concentration, optimism, confidence, and an enhanced recollection. A low-cost, mood-boosting, memory-improving, stress-relieving activity that can give you a sense of happiness and accomplishment—without leaving your house? If you’re not doing puzzles, what are you doing?
6. Get a good night's sleep
An average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep to feel well-rested and stay healthy. Nowadays millions of people suffer from a sleep disorder, caused by stress, digital intoxication, and excessive anxiety. Doctors recommend 3 basic things to improve your sleep.
Choose a bedtime hour and go to bed at the same time every day. Reduce blue light from your smartphones or other gadgets. This light is proved to affect our circadian rhythm. Do something relaxing (NOT on your smartphone, of course). Puzzling is not a physically intense activity. When you do puzzles, you stay off any gadgets. You can calm down and relax with your favourite hobby.
7. Reboot your brain
Do you feel like your life is a hamster wheel? You do work routines day by day and feel tired, never accomplished, and trapped in negative thoughts. Chronic stress changes the brain. Psychotherapists advise us to give our brain a reboot and try something new and fun. For example, jigsaw puzzles! They’re colourful and challenging. You have fun doing a puzzle. And feel happy, when you achieve the result. Remember, the more activity feels fun, the more likely you are to keep it up.
8. Jigsaw puzzles have cognitive benefits for children, too
Jigsaw puzzles can aid the development of children’s minds in numerous ways, too; from spatial and organisational skills to patience and self-control. They also help with concentration and improve fine motor skills. (Anything that can help them learn to fasten their own buttons, laces, and zippers? Winning.)
Are jigsaw puzzles good for mental health?
Many of us do weight training a few times a week for lean muscles, strength training to prevent joint issues, cardio to stay slim, and other things to keep our physical health at its optimum. But, we do not engage in brain-boosting activities to improve our mental sharpness, creativity, and emotional intelligence.
The lack of mental health enthusiasm is because we humans focus primarily on our physical health to gain muscle power and attractive looks. But this is a grave mistake that must be rectified as quickly as possible. Let’s take a closer look at the significance of good mental health and how to attain it.
The brain is the most diverse and crucial internal organ. Hence, it requires special attention. It processes receiving information, regulates our functions, and, most crucially, interprets our emotions. It is the source of our creativity, intelligence, wit, and memory. Furthermore, our brain continues to function even while we sleep. I’ve outlined three critical justifications for enhancing cognitive skills below to support my point.
1. Jigsaw puzzles delay mental health deterioration
You may know that our mental health starts to deteriorate as we age. It’s no shock that older people have trouble remembering things. As a result, to postpone the worsening of mental health due to the age factor, engage in simple brain workouts.
Jigsaw puzzles improve neuroplasticity, which aids in the prevention of conditions such as memory loss, dementia, anxiety, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and bipolar disorder, to mention a few.
2. Improve your memory
A task, challenge, or problem compels the brain to work harder, resulting in a sharper and wiser intellect. Make it a habit to solve or learn stuff every day to improve your memory capacity. For instance, you can take on a math challenge irrespective of whether you’re a student, professional, or stay-at-home parent. Sure, math problems are tricky and thus make an excellent challenge for the brain. Try to solve the problem by yourself. Doing so will help you break down the solution and enhance your memory capacity. Similarly, you may boost your brainpower by solving jigsaw puzzles, playing cards, or socialising.
3. Jigsaw puzzles improve your cognitive ability
As noted before, brain-boosting activities promote neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity handles influence our physiological and behavioral attributes. Hence, it is critical to nourish it. So, you must take on a challenge for faster and more efficient cognitive performance. No matter your age, gender, or physical health, you can hone your mental abilities such as better processing power, improved creativity, enhanced visual-spatial ability, smartness, and develop a healthy brain. So, by now, you’ve probably realised how important it is to keep your mental health in check and at its best.
More from Rest In Pieces
- Jigsaw puzzles in film and TV 🎥
- Can jigsaw puzzles help dementia? 🧠
- Memes turned into jigsaw puzzles 😂
- Famous people who like jigsaw puzzles 🤩
- How to frame a jigsaw puzzle 🖼️
People of all ages can benefit significantly from doing jigsaw puzzles. Puzzles promote family togetherness, offer mental stimulation, and provide a restful, meditative break from our fast-paced digital lives. It's easy to see why assembling jigsaw puzzles is an increasingly popular activity. Now, to reap the above health benefits, practice and implement our following mind-stimulating jigsaw puzzles suggestions: