Puzzling has as many benefits as the number of pieces they come with. No longer a pastime of frustrating ship scenes with far too much samey blue sky, join the new revolution and return to this simple pastime. An escape from the overload, overwork and overstress of everyday life, a jigsaw puzzle requires your full attention and therein lies the magic.
Puzzling is a complete brain exercise as it uses both sides of the brain. The right side is the king of creativity, emotions and intuitive thinking, while the left is the queen of logic, objectivity and being methodical. Just like a reigning couple, during puzzling, both sides must communicate and work together, increasing cognitive function and preventing cognitive decline. Think of it as a mental workout that improves your problem-solving skills and attention span.
Improve visual-spatial reasoning
Doing a jigsaw puzzle involves looking at individual pieces and figuring out where they'll fit into the big picture. Regular puzzling improves visual-spatial reasoning, which helps with driving a car, packing, using a map, learning a whole host of other things. Including following dance moves – Tik Tok here we come!
Greater attention to detail
Just like a work of art, every detail is critical when solving a puzzle. You need to train your eyes to find the small differences in colours or shapes to help you complete the image. This is especially helpful for us in our careers, as when we’re more detailed and precise, the quality of our work improves.
Jigsaw puzzles improve your short-term memory. Doing a puzzle reinforces connections between brain cells, improves mental speed and is an effective way to improve short-term memory. Just like exercising a muscle, your neural connections are strengthened, and new connections are generated, increasing mental speed and thought processes.
Improve problem solving ability
Puzzling involves taking different approaches to solving a problem, using trial and error to bring success. It’s actually incredibly strategic as you learn the value of formulating theories, testing hypotheses, and changing your perspectives when something doesn't go as planned. These skills can be transferred to work, making you more innovative when problem solving and increasing your capacity for critical thinking.
It’s easier to focus when you’re happy and your stress levels are low. When your concentration improves, your productivity skyrockets. If you're having trouble staying focused on your studies or work, take a short break to do a puzzle and reset your brain. Many offices are beginning to include puzzles and similar games in their resting areas, allowing employees to disconnect from work for a few minutes so they can return refreshed.
Better collaboration and teamwork
Yale University researchers found that when workers puzzle together in the workplace, they improve their relationships with each other and enhance cooperation and teamwork. Jigsaw puzzles are also a great way to connect with family. Starting a puzzle and keeping it on a table in a frequently used space is an invitation for the whole family to participate, whenever they have a few minutes to sit down and focus. It's also a creative tactic that parents of teens can use to start a conversation while working toward a shared goal.
Solving puzzles increases the brain’s production of dopamine. This neurotransmitter regulates mood and optimism and also affects learning, memory, concentration, and motivation. Dopamine is released every time we do a puzzle and even every time we put a piece in the right place!! This encourages us to keep going and challenge ourselves.
Decrease stress level
Our brains go from "Beta" or awake, to a state of "Alpha" when you are assembling puzzles. The Alpha state is similar to the state we are in when we are dreaming. Focusing on one image for a long period of time, without extraneous thoughts entering your mind, is in itself meditation. By doing a jigsaw puzzle, you're getting the same benefits as if you meditated. The stress of everyday life evaporates and is replaced by a sense of peace and tranquillity that lowers your blood pressure and heart rate.