In the midst of a massive viral outbreak, the Coronavirus Covid 19, never has my own anxiety run so high. One hobby is helping me through this crisis on a daily basis, and that is doing jigsaw puzzles.
Anxiety can be crippling. That awful tense feeling, racing mind, constant worry, breathing issues. Jigsaw puzzles may be just the calm in the storm that you really need to help.
Hobbies that help to quiet the mind are so helpful in dealing with anxiety. For me, doing jigsaw puzzles helps to ease my racing, troubled thoughts and provides real jigsaw puzzle therapy.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide any kind of medical advice or to take the place of advice or treatment from a doctor or physician.
Are Jigsaw Puzzles Good for Anxiety and Stress?
I've discussed at length here on PuzzleHour how doing jigsaw puzzles has helped me enormously with coping with the grief and loss of a loved one. It has reduced my stress and anxiety levels enormously and helps on a daily basis.
In the midst of my grieving comes the stress of the Coronavirus outbreak which has reduced whole countries quite literally to a standstill and caused thousands of deaths worldwide.
No wonder my anxiety levels have increased. The terror of this virus is all over the news, all over social media. There's almost no escaping it.
While lots of people have been panic buying food and supplies, I've been busy panic buying jigsaw puzzles, making sure that my supply is big enough to last for at least a couple of months while being confined to the home.
Jigsaw puzzles have become so essential to my mental health and wellbeing that stocking up for me is sensible. They quite literally help to keep me calm in the midst of this awful Coronavirus storm.
Why Jigsaw Puzzles Can be Good for Anxiety
Dr. Susan Vandermorris, a clinical neuropsychologist, states that "In our hyperconnected world, if you're physically doing a paper or cardboard puzzle, you are, by definition, disconnected and engaged in a task that’s immersive, away from the interruptions and stresses of day-to-day life. And that, of course, is good for your brain health."
In other words, doing jigsaw puzzles has been shown to successfully help to take your mind off real-life stresses, worries and things that are making us anxious.
Doing a jigsaw can be very relaxing and calming. Your mind starts to focus on the single task of solving the puzzle rather than the numerous issues that may be making you anxious and stressed.
For me, a jigsaw puzzle actually works to give my mind a breather from the stress, strain and worries of everyday life for however long I have to spend working on it. And, even after, I can still feel the benefits of doing a jigsaw puzzle as I feel noticeably more relaxed for a few hours after.
Scientific studies have shown that whilst doing jigsaw puzzles, the brain increases our levels of dopamine which is the body's natural feel-good chemical or happy hormone.
This increased dopamine in our system helps us to literally feel better and therefore helps to reduce anxiety and stress and increase our feelings of happiness and pleasure.
How Jigsaw Puzzles Help Me Deal With Anxiety
1) Puzzling is a tactile hobby.
Right from the first moment of placing my hand inside the box, I help to shift the state of my nerves and anxious thoughts by introducing the physical art of touch.
I realise that this may well sound silly, especially to someone who's never done jigsaw puzzles, but just feeling the individual pieces can be very satisfying.
Brands have different feels to them as well. Some jigsaw puzzle brands have a slightly textured matte finish and some are very smooth and glossy. Some are smooth one side and slightly rough on the other. Some are silky smooth on both sides.
Either way, puzzle pieces have a really satisfying feel between my fingers which does help to start calming my nerves as soon as I start to hold them. Perhaps too, it is the hand-mind association that jigsaw puzzles make me feel better.
2) Jigsaw puzzles shift the mind's focus.
When my anxiety levels rise, my mind tends to get filled and literally overwhelmed with many stressful and worrying thoughts. This will affect my breathing and often make me feel as if I am having a hot flush.
Sometimes I start to sweat along with feeling flushed, hot and stressed. It can be hard to focus, sometimes I chew my nails and pace around the room.
The signs that I am getting worked up are a signal that I need to start calming myself down. Luckily, working from home means that I can just drop everything and go do a jigsaw puzzle. If you go out to work, it may be possible to take along a portable jigsaw puzzle, in a Portapuzzle style holder, to work on during your break and lunch times.
Just the act of working on a puzzle, helps to take my racing mind off other things. A puzzle helps to very quickly calm my mind, my nagging thoughts and my mental state. Very quickly, my attention is shifted onto concentrating on the single task of solving the puzzle.
Very soon I get totally immersed in the jigsaw and I start to feel calmer, happier and at peace. It's almost like being transported into another world, somewhere better. While doing the jigsaw I can take my mind off all the things that were bothering me and contributing to my anxiety.
Sometimes the artwork of the puzzle will help too. A fun or peaceful looking design can put my mind in a better place. My mind is soon taken away from all the worrying thoughts and helps to provide a wonderful jigsaw puzzle therapy like no other.
3) Sorting and organizing gives a sense of control.
Sorting out and separating the edge pieces and any type of sorting and organizing puzzle pieces helps me to feel like I'm in control.
My thoughts may have been out of control and increasing my stress and anxiety, but sorting and organizing the puzzle pieces helps to put me in a position of being back in control.
This feeling of being in control of something helps me to master my own stressful, anxious and racing thoughts. I can at least control the jigsaw puzzle and that knowledge helps me to calm and control my own worrying thoughts.
Doing a jigsaw puzzle helps to calm and quiet my thoughts and reduce any anxiety that I am feeling.
4) Provides a continued sense of achievement.
Obviously I get the biggest sense of achievement every time that I solve and finish a jigsaw puzzle.
However there are also smaller and continuous feelings of achievement such as when I happen to fit a piece that I've wanted to find for some time, when I finish a tricky area such as a sky, water, snow or somewhere where the colour all seems the same.
Getting a sense of achievement while working on each jigsaw is really a positive mental boost that also helps me to overcome anxiety and replace it with something positive.
5) Focusing on the artwork can be meditative and relaxing.
I spend a lot of time looking at the artwork of the jigsaw puzzle design. I look at the box or the included poster art and get familiar with the picture so that I have a good idea of where each piece may fit.
Looking at the artwork for a while, and really studying it, I can often feel myself going into a little bit of a trance, like a meditation state.
Studies show that meditating daily can in fact put your body into a calmer state by lowering your blood pressure. Meditation is a known relaxation technique so I know when I'm in this state whilst doing a jigsaw puzzle that I'm physically calming my mind and my body.
6) Having some much needed ME time.
Mostly, I work on jigsaws alone. I have a very quiet space in the home where I can just close the door, retreat into my personal space and work on a puzzle.
I happen to find that time for myself is a necessary away from all the noise and the constant interruptions that go hand-in-hand with a modern life. Time away from things that may add to my stress and anxiety.
Having some much-needed time to myself to enjoy the hobby of doing jigsaw puzzles is a great way for me to deal with anxiety.
7) Enjoying some quality time together.
Although mostly I do jigsaws alone, at weekends my husband and I will often enjoy working on a smaller, 500 piece puzzle together because these don't take too long.
Sharing some quality time bonding over a jigsaw is a lovely way to help put me into a calmer and happier state of mind. Quite often we will make a grab for the same piece, or have a little tussle over who fits the last piece and then laugh about it.
We enjoy a chat and a cuppa while working on solving the puzzle and this shared time is just as valuable as the frequent me time that I spend enjoying jigsaws on my own.
8) Jigsaw puzzle retail therapy.
One thing that doesn't often get mentioned is how enjoyable buying and collecting puzzles can be, especially when you get hooked on them.
Most of us know about the short-lived benefits of retail therapy and the buzz that can be had from buying, sometimes called comfort buying, that can help with anxiety, stress and depression.
Well buying jigsaw puzzles can get quite addictive. I enjoy the whole process from searching for puzzles which are both old ones and new ones, collecting puzzles such as sets like the limited edition Waddingtons Christmas designs, and get a buzz from it all.
Buying jigsaw puzzles is definitely a stress reliever for me, but I am aware of sticking to a budget that I can afford to spend and not going over that budget. Otherwise it could unfortunately turn into a hobby that adds to my anxiety rather than helping to reduce it if I overspent on buying puzzles.
Jigsaw Puzzle Stress Relief
Jigsaw puzzles provide an essential therapy for me in helping to reduce my anxiety levels and keep me calm each day.
Discover how I use jigsaw puzzles to take my mind off stressful things.
They help to take my mind off worries and all the things that are making me anxious by shifting my attention onto the single task of solving the puzzle.
During this anxious time of living with this Coronavirus, jigsaw puzzles can really help to take your mind into a more pleasant state and transport you somewhere nicer. If you haven't already given jigsaw puzzles a go, I would recommend that you start by doing a 500 piece puzzle.
Related Content You Should Also Love:
Why Jigsaw Puzzles for Stress is So Beneficial
How to Take Your Mind Off Stressful Things With a Jigsaw Puzzle
Why Jigsaw Puzzles are a Great Hobby for Dealing With Grief
How Best to Begin Doing Jigsaw Puzzles
The Many Benefits of Doing Jigsaw Puzzles
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Puzzles, handcrafts, coloring and other meditative activities have long been thought to decrease feelings of anxiety and increase mental well-being. Studies have connected jigsaw puzzles to improved cognition in the elderly.Do jigsaw puzzles help with stress? ›
Jigsaw puzzles are a great meditation tool and stress reliever. 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.Are jigsaw puzzles good for your mental health? ›
Doing a puzzle reinforces connections between brain cells, improves mental speed and is an especially effective way to improve short-term memory. Jigsaw puzzles improve your visual-spatial reasoning.Do jigsaw puzzles relax you? ›
At your own desired pace, puzzling can help relieve stress and anxiety. Naturally, puzzling can help quiet the mind while being in the present moment. When your attention is on shapes and pieces rather than split every which way, it creates a calming effect much like meditation!What games reduce anxiety? ›
- Bubble Wrap. Bubble Wrap is a great game for reducing stress. ...
- Color Break. Color Break grants a marvelous opportunity to relax and have fun. ...
- Personal Zen. Personal Zen is another of my favorite stress relief games. ...
- Paper Toss. ...
- Relaxing Puzzler. ...
- Candy Crush. ...
- Bejeweled. ...
There are also mental health benefits to puzzling. As trauma therapist Olivia James told Wired in 2021, “Focusing such that your mind is occupied but not excessively challenged is incredibly helpful for people with depression, anxiety, and stress” as the activity offers “a little holiday from yourself.”What happens if you do puzzles everyday? ›
Working on a puzzle reinforces connections between brain cells, improves mental speed and is an effective way to improve short-term memory. Puzzles increase the production of dopamine, a chemical that regulates mood, memory, and concentration. Dopamine is released with every success as we solve the puzzle.What type of person likes jigsaw puzzles? ›
According to profiling with the Myers-Briggs test, many dissectologists who excel at putting puzzles together are people with personality types that are either INFJs or ISFJs. In other words, these are “Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judgment” and “Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judgment,” respectively.What does jigsaw do to your brain? ›
Studies have shown that doing jigsaw puzzles can improve cognition and visual-spatial reasoning. The act of putting the pieces of a puzzle together requires concentration and improves short-term memory and problem solving.Do puzzles actually help your brain? ›
Doing puzzles and playing puzzle games regularly also helps to form new connections within your brain cells, improving your short term memory. A study done by the University of Michigan even found that people who do puzzles for 25 minutes a day showed an improvement in their IQ scores by four points.
There was a positive association between puzzles skills and intellectual abilities. Subjects who assembled puzzles the quickest also scored highest on all the visual and spatial cognition tests. This implies that the intelligence used as a skilled jigsaw puzzle solver may also transfer to other tasks.Can jigsaw puzzles be addictive? ›
Any lifelong puzzle lover will tell you that they're addictive. But now that you know a little bit about how addiction works, you can understand why jigsaw puzzles are so addictive. Your brain doesn't only release dopamine when you complete a puzzle — it also releases dozens of little doses of dopamine along the way.How long does it take to complete a 1000 piece puzzle? ›
A 1,000-piece puzzle has a solving time range of 5 to 12 hours and an average solving time of 9 hours.What helps calm anxiety when bored? ›
Whether it's an instrument or sport, hobbies are great time fillers that stimulate new parts of the brain, as well as release stress and anxiety related with being bored,” Backe explains. So, explore a hobby, be it a completely new activity or one you used to enjoy. Something might come to mind right away.How do I get rid of anxiety forever? ›
- Breathing techniques. One of the most important things to remember when you start to feel anxious is to breathe. ...
- Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is an excellent way to help reduce anxiety. ...
- Healthy diet. ...
- Reduce caffeine. ...
- Get outdoors. ...
- Aerobic exercise. ...
- Yoga and meditation. ...
- Tetris. Tetris is the classic game where you fit objects of different shapes together. ...
- Animal Crossing. Animal Crossing is a social simulation game by Nintendo. ...
- Stardew valley. ...
- Unpacking. ...
- Townscaper. ...
- Power Wash Simulator. ...
- SuchArt. ...
- Cat Goes Fishing.
They can Improve Your IQ Score. Since puzzles can improve our memory, concentration, vocabulary, and reasoning skills it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that they also raise our IQs. A study at the University of Michigan showed that doing puzzles for at least 25 minutes a day can boost your IQ by 4 points.Does jigsaw increase IQ? ›
Regularly sitting down to solve jigsaw puzzles is a great way to not only keep what you have but to develop more, whether it's memory or motor skill. In short, solving jigsaw puzzles on a regular basis should, in most people, provide a substantive boost in the results of most IQ tests.Why you gravitate to puzzles when you're depressed? ›
It's not just about focus, either. Solving puzzles occupies the mind enough to draw your focus outward, James says, and give you a break from the constant internal monologue—often an unkind one for anxiety and depression sufferers. “We get a sense of achievement when we complete a puzzle …What are the disadvantages of puzzles? ›
Secondly, puzzles often do not have a rigid fixation, so the picture can accidentally break if you touch it. The child may lose motivation and stop attending classes. Third, puzzle pieces are often lost, and the child cannot finish assembling the puzzle he started.
While puzzles benefit people of all ages, the benefits are especially pronounced for seniors. Puzzles improve brains, help people relax, are a good opportunity for social interaction, and are just good fun!What does it mean if I'm good at puzzles? ›
It means you are a critical thinker, a problem solver, and likely, a visual learner.What do you call someone who is good at puzzles? ›
Enigmatologist is the word for the person you describe. The term was coined by Will Shortz, the former editor of Games magazine, which I read voraciously as a child. He's currently the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle.What do you call someone who does a lot of puzzles? ›
noun. cru·ci·ver·bal·ist. ˌkrüsəˈvərbələ̇st. : a person skillful in creating or solving crossword puzzles.What are the disadvantages of jigsaw method? ›
According to Johnson and Johnson (2000), there are also some disadvantages of using the jigsaw method, they are: 1) require some time to prepare students to learn how to work in groups, 2) require some time to make groups that each group has heterogeneity in their member ability, and 3) teacher should make special ...Are jigsaws therapeutic? ›
Jigsaw puzzles are quite therapeutic indeed! They allow for increased mental stimulation, increased “good-feelings”, and improved Interactions with others. It's exercising that ever-so-important muscle “The Brain” that makes it stronger.Why are jigsaw puzzles so satisfying? ›
It feels like working towards something meaningful. Jigsaw puzzles are about clear solutions with a clear goal: putting the pieces together to reveal an image. Goals drive our minds, and these puzzles satisfy your needs for accomplishing goals, even though it is just a game.Which puzzle is most addictive? ›
2048, a simple online puzzle game, is almost perfectly addictive. Using the arrow keys, you bang tiles of the same number together — 2 and 2 become 4, 4 and 4 become 8, then 32, 64, 128, and so on — with the goal of getting to 2048.What exercises improve brain memory? ›
- Test your recall. ...
- Let the music play. ...
- Do math in your head. ...
- Take a cooking class. ...
- Learn a foreign language. ...
- Create word pictures. ...
- Draw a map from memory. ...
- Challenge your taste buds.
Puzzles activate both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. “Imagination is activated alongside reasoning or reckoning,” Danesi says. “Memory also comes into play, especially in word-based and math-based puzzles. This entails a 'whole-brain' activation.”
But do these things really keep the aging brain sharp? The short answer is, not really. "It can certainly help you concentrate if you spend an hour or two doing puzzles," said Dr. Vladimir Hachinski, a Canadian neurologist and global expert in the field of brain health.What skills do puzzles develop? ›
Puzzles develop memory skills, as well as an ability to plan, test ideas and solve problems. While completing a puzzle, children need to remember shapes, colours, positions and strategies to complete them.How many calories do you burn doing a jigsaw puzzle? ›
Our brain requires 0.1 calories every minute simply to survive when we do something challenging such as a puzzle or a quiz or sum brain-teasers we can burn through 1.5 calories ever minute, thus, doing puzzles and quizzes burn as average of 90 calories every hour, its helps to gain and sharpens the memories.What is the hardest jigsaw puzzle ever? ›
World's Most Difficult Jigsaw Puzzle - Dalmatians is a quality 529 piece jigsaw puzzle from Paul Lamond Games. This brilliant jigsaw puzzle is double-sided, with the same artwork on both sides, making it the ultimate challenge for even the most enthusiastic of puzzlers.What is the fastest way to solve a jigsaw puzzle? ›
- Plan and Prepare. Puzzles can seem simple enough to figure out: Open the box, dump out the pieces, and commence puzzling, right? ...
- Choose a Great Puzzling Surface. ...
- Let There Be Light. ...
- Top o' the Box Top. ...
- Keep 'em Separated. ...
- Focus on the Easy Stuff First. ...
- Go Blind. ...
- Don't Go Blind.
Summary: Researchers have created a surprisingly simple yet targeted brain game that reduces anxiety by helping people focus in an increasingly distracting world.Can sudoku help with anxiety? ›
Helps Relieve Anxiety and Stress
If you've had a long day at work and need to unwind, Sudoku is the best game to play online. It is a great stress buster as the puzzles help calm your mind and keep anxiety and stress at bay.
Video games can also help people who are dealing with mental disorders like anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Social interaction. Multiplayer and online games are good for virtual social interaction.Are there benefits to doing puzzles? ›
Puzzles are also good for the brain. Studies have shown that doing jigsaw puzzles can improve cognition and visual-spatial reasoning. The act of putting the pieces of a puzzle together requires concentration and improves short-term memory and problem solving.How can I calm my anxiety brain? ›
- Breathe. ...
- Admit that you're anxious or angry. ...
- Challenge your thoughts. ...
- Release the anxiety or anger. ...
- Visualize yourself calm. ...
- Think it through. ...
- Change your focus. ...
- Have a centering object.
Her latest research suggests that Tetris can ease us through periods of anxiety by getting us to a blissfully engrossed mental state that psychologists call "flow." "The state of flow is one where you're completely absorbed or engaged in some kind of activity," Sweeny explains.What happens to your brain when you play Sudoku? ›
Taking a stab at Sudoku is another working-memory training activity. It's like chess — while you're making a move, you have to think three or four steps ahead to your next move. And that's good exercise for the brain.What happens if I solve a Sudoku daily? ›
Sudoku keeps your brain active and reduces the risk of Alzheimer's, a most common cause of dementia that affects a person's thinking and behavioural skills. Stimulates your mind: The game works on your logical thinking process as you are absorbed in solving a puzzle and eventually improve your number skills.What actually is anxiety? ›
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview.What is the youngest age a person can be mentally ill? ›
Mental illness can strike anyone at any time in their life. In fact, more than 350 million people across the world – of all ages and from all communities – suffer from depression. But half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).What do you call a person who does jigsaw puzzles? ›
DISSECTOLOGIST. So, as I have already mentioned in my first blog post about the history of the Jigsaw Puzzle, the term that is used to call someone who plays and enjoys jigsaw puzzles is called a “Dissectologist“.