Have you ever done a puzzle and been frustrated with trying to figure out where the pieces fit? Then, you maneuver the pieces around to see if that will help but the pieces still don’t fit. So, you give up and throw the pieces all over the place? Yes, I know that feeling all too well. Even though puzzles can be a bit frustrating, doing them can be very beneficial and healthy for your brain.
Jigsaw puzzles were initially invented by a man named John Spilsbury in the 1760’s as a tool to help kids teach geography. Maps were printed on wood then cut into pieces that the kids would eventually have to reassemble. Eventually this simple game would catch on in popularity for both children and adults, and more than just maps were printed on the wood panels and a variety of themes were introduced for fun.
There are many benefits to playing with puzzles such as helping with your memory, problem solving skills, releasing stress and so much more.
- It’s been proven that Jigsaw puzzles improve your short-term memory. I know that I can be a very forgetful person. Sometimes I’ll leave an object in a room, but forget where I put it the next minute. If you can’t remember something, Jigsaw puzzles can help with that. According to South Mountain Memory Care, doing a puzzle reinforces connections between brain cells, improves mental speed and is an especially effective way to improve short-term memory.
- Jigsaw puzzles can be great to practice mindfulness. When focusing on solving the image, few intrusive thoughts enter your mind. Doing jigsaw puzzles give you the same benefits as meditation.
- Just as one has to exercise for their physical health, doing puzzles can be considered a complete brain exercise since it exercises both the right and left sides of the brain. The right side is in charge of creativity, emotions and intuitive thinking; and the left is the logical, objective and methodical side. It’s important to exercise your brain to help it stay healthy.
Keeping your brain active can help delay symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that keeping the mind active through puzzles and other problem-solving activities can reduce the amount of brain cell damage that occurs in Alzheimer’s patients (Cronicas Puzzleras, 2020).
Puzzles comes in all shapes and sizes with categories to pick from. So, go complete a puzzle to exercise your brain, to help with your short-term memory, to relieve some stress, and to have fun!
Staff Blogger: Golda Duncan
Golda Duncan is a Peer Services Educator. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a passion for the mental health community and wants to make a change.