Why We Should All Be Doing More Puzzles
DJ Fatboy Slim hails them as being “good for losing yourself”. Ellen Degeneres smashed a really, really big one. Hugh Jackman posts photos of them. Kylie Jenner thinks they’re underrated. Bill Gates takes them on holiday. Ronnie Wood has even swapped drinking and drugs for them.
The verdicts are out. The news is in. And yes, the rumours you’ve heard are in fact true. The humble jigsaw puzzle is making a comeback, and they’re here to stay. What you might not know however, is that this is not just excellent news to reawaken our nostalgia; but also for our wellbeing, as they come with an abundance of health benefits. We’ve taken the liberty of outlining a few of them for you below.
IMPROVING BRAIN FUNCTION AND MEMORY
The Global Council on Brain Health (2017) recently recommended that people should start building mentally stimulating tasks, such as doing a puzzle, into your routine from an early age if you’d like to benefit from stronger and more effective brain function as you age. It’s been proven that doing a puzzle reinforces connections between your brain cells, which not only improves short term memory but also boosts your brain-speed.
REDUCING STRESS, ANXIETY AND MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
When doing a jigsaw and creating a focus for your brain over a duration of time, it experiences relief and enters into a meditative state. This leads to an increased production of the 'feel-good' hormone dopamine, which helps improve motivation, mood, concentration and optimism, as well as the 'brain-boosting' neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, responsible for muscle movement, attention, learning & memory and sleep quality. As a result, as you piece a puzzle together, your brain relaxes and external stresses and anxiety levels lower.
As Marcel Danesi, a professor of semiotics and anthropology at the University of Toronto, pointed out, “puzzles give psychological order to the chaos we feel” which when completed people seem to “come out [the other side] better in terms of mental health”.
INCREASE YOUR IQ
Dr. Susanne Jäggi, from the University of Michigan, says that investing just 25 minutes in doing a puzzle can increase your IQ by 4 points.
According to a recent 2020 report published by We Are Social, the average internet user spends 6 hours and 43 minutes online each day. On average, we pick up our phones 58 times a day. We’re increasingly inundated by digitalisation, so it’s more important than ever to be aware of technology's negative impact on our psychological and physical health and seek ways of changing our behaviour. There are an abundance of studies proving the correlation between technology and the rise of depression, anxiety, work burn-out and fatigue, isolation, eyestrain and sleep problems.
As these effects of our digital overconsumption are becoming more evident, offline activities such as doing a jigsaw puzzle are becoming increasingly popular. It allows us to switch off from our everyday demands and instead enjoy the power of life’s simple pleasures; either in your own company or joined by your partner, friends or family.
So with this knowledge in tow, go forth into the world.
You know what’s good for you.