Why Puzzles for Self-Care & Mental Wellness?

Jigsaw puzzles may have been a part of your childhood activities, but it’s time we put a new spin on this classic and add them to our self-care routines. While primarily known as tech-free quiet time, puzzling provides health benefits by tapping into whole-brain learning and boosting your mood. Surprised that puzzles are more than a family fun activity and actually improve your health? We were too. But don’t worry. We did our research and brought the receipts!

Lighten The Mood

Sis, are you tired of doing all the things? It’s time to take a break from the day’s worries and savor a peaceful moment with a puzzle. Studies show that jigsaw puzzles can serve as a way to cope with emotions, reduce stress levels, and promote a sense of calm.1 Pull out the puzzle box and bring on the tranquil flow. 

Keep It Sharp

When you puzzle, you’re targeting both sides of your brain--the analytical left side and the creative right side--and enhancing the connection between the two. The result? Sharper recall, improved visual-spatial ability, and more focused thinking.2 Your long-term mental health is positively impacted, too. Puzzles and other activities that challenge your thinking ability can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life.3

Create With No Boundaries

If you’re in a mental rut, some puzzle time may give you a much-needed energy boost. Completing a puzzle releases dopamine, a chemical in the brain that elevates your mood, sharpens your focus, and expands your creativity. Dopamine also induces pleasure--which is why you’ll soon make puzzling a habitual part of your self-care routine!4 Take a work break and indulge in this hands-on meditation. You’ll return to the office feeling mentally refreshed, clear, and confident to handle the rest of the day.

Cherish Your Accomplishments

There’s no better feeling than completing a task and saying, “I did that!” The starting point may be a bunch of jumbled pieces--but with patience and hard work, you can create order and reveal the final masterpiece. Sounds like life, right? Puzzles represent the result of our dedication and effort. And that rush of satisfaction at the end is worth it.

Every. Time.

Puzzles provide numerous benefits to our mental and emotional health, and they also represent our journeys into self-care and self-acceptance. Ready to revel in all this goodness?

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1. Fissler, Patrick et al., “Jigsaw Puzzling Taps Multiple Cognitive Abilities and Is a Potential Protective Factor for Cognitive Aging,” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. October 1, 2018. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2018.00299/full

2. Fissler, Patrick, “What puzzles do to your brain,” Brut UK. May 12, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/brutuk/videos/what-puzzles-do-to-your-brain/669147313818600/ 

3. Stuart, Annie, “Brain Exercises and Dementia,” WebMD. October 16, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/preventing-dementia-brain-exercises#1

4. Bergaland, Christopher, “The Neuroscience of Perseverance: Dopamine Reinforces the Habit of Perseverance,” Psychology Today. December 26, 2011. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201112/the-neuroscience-perseverance