For the last two years, COVID has delivered a wallop of a punch to just about every aspect of our lives. Everyone has looked for a way to make the confinement and isolation more bearable. If you are like me, you gravitated towards jigsaw puzzles, sudokus and crosswords during this time. In honour of National Puzzle Day on January 29th, I am going to give you an overview of why doing jigsaw puzzles is good for you and your family’s health.
Improved Visual-Spatial Reasoning
If you have experienced the initial chaos of 1000 pieces of puzzle lying all over the table, you will recognize that feeling of being overwhelmed. But as you begin to work on the puzzle you’ll gradually start to see small patterns that fit into the larger picture you’re trying to complete. At the same time, your attention to detail increases as you begin to differentiate the seemingly same sky blue pieces into the various shades that make up the whole.
Doing puzzles exercises both sides of the brain; the creative, emotional and intuitive right side works in conjunction with the logical, objective and methodical left side. This mental exercise aids in the prevention of cognitive decline.
Improve Short-term Memory
Jigsaw puzzles are also, oddly, a great way to improve short term memory. When you are scanning all of the pieces, there is this ‘aha’ moment when you find one that belongs to a section you may have worked on earlier.
Increase Your IQ
Researchers from the University of Michigan, led by Dr. Susanne Jäggi, found that spending 25 minutes a day solving puzzles and riddles can raise your IQ by 4 points.
Doing jigsaw puzzles forces your brain to look at pieces of differing colours and shapes and try to create a larger picture pattern. While doing so you are using problem-solving skills such as critical thinking, adaptability, and innovation to create the whole out of the myriad of different ‘clues’.
Decrease Stress/Improve Mood
If you’ve ever immersed yourself in a jigsaw puzzle, you’ll know that time seems to evaporate during that exercise. This ‘release’ helps us to decrease our stress levels by increasing the amount of dopamine in our system. This neurotransmitter is responsible for regulating mood and optimism. Additionally, when doing puzzles, our brains go from a state of Beta (active) to one of Alpha (a state similar to dreaming), thereby improving our mood, relieving stress, and improving self-confidence.
These are but a few of the reasons why we should celebrate National Puzzle day! Go to the WPL catalogue and choose from a wide variety of choices. There are lots of options from 35 pieces to 1000 plus and varying degrees of difficulty to match your mood. Even if COVID may be turning a corner, the long days of winter cry out for the beneficial distraction of a jigsaw puzzle!