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Why Jigsaw Puzzles are Good for Your Brain?

Why Jigsaw Puzzles are Good for Your Brain?

Why Jigsaw Puzzles are Good for Your Brain

Not only are jigsaw puzzles excellent brain training and coordination improvement tools, they’re fun, too! Working a puzzle helps develop your abilities to reason, analyze, sequence, deduce, logical thought processes and problem solving skills. These types of puzzles also improve hand-eye co-ordination and develop a good working sense of spatial arrangements.

When you solve a jigsaw puzzle, you are engaging your brain to retain information on shapes and colors in order to choose pieces that will fit together properly. This hunt for pieces requires your brain to memorize what each piece looks like or what the shape should look like and what kinds of pieces you are searching for in order to complete the picture. Because you are likely doing this repeatedly as you search for puzzle pieces, the process reinforces short-term memory.

Jigsaw puzzles also promote the relationship between the left and right brain. The logical left brain looks at individual parts. It is sequential, rational, analytical and objective. The left brain is stimulated by problem solving. The creative right brain sees the big picture. It thrives on randomness, is intuitive and subjective, and even likes the unfamiliar. Jigsaw puzzles satiate the needs of both the left and right brain.

In solving jigsaw puzzles, the brain is being worked in both hemispheres, making connections between the sides as well as between brain cells. The connections enhance your ability to learn, understand and remember. Furthermore, each success with the puzzle – from individual piece placement to the actual completion of the puzzle – encourages the production of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates mood and affects concentration and motivation. Dopamine also plays a large part in memory and motor control.

If you really like a challenge, try the ‘blind’ technique in solving your puzzles. With this approach, study the image on the face of the jigsaw puzzle box only before you begin. Then put it away. You have to work from memory to rearrange the pieces and complete the visual. When you’ve mastered that technique, you can really give your brain a workout by trying to put a puzzle together face down – with no picture. It may not seem as exciting as watching the picture come together, but you’ll be working your brain extra hard to figure out where those pieces go.

Puzzles can also be relaxing. Concentrating on the puzzle pieces might help refocus the mind away from negative and stressful thoughts. Once you’re in a peaceful state of mind, cortisol and blood pressure levels drop to healthier levels. Since chronic elevations of cortisol in the bloodstream can lead to impaired cognitive abilities, anything you can do to reduce those levels can only be beneficial for your brain.

Jigsaw Puzzle Strategies, Tips and Hints

Jigsaw Puzzle Strategies, Tips and Hints

Are Jigsaw Puzzles The New Adult Coloring Books?

My mom is a longtime jigsaw puzzler. When I was young, seeing her leaning over a pile of cut-outs, piecing them together to form various pictures of orchids or landscapes or puppies was a nightly thing. She even had a wooden table dedicated to her puzzling hobby, complete with a special lamp and leather chair.

I always thought of her jigsaw addiction as a quirky, endearing "mom" trait. So when I started noticing the puzzles popping up more and more in my daily life, at first I thought I was homesick. But as I listened to my friends gush about how jigsaw puzzles helped them relax and unwind, I found myself wondering whether this was an actual trend.

It is. The jigsaw market is growing globally, and is expected to reach $730 million by 2024, MarketWatch reports. Plus, there’s a strangely satisfying subreddit entirely full of pictures of completed puzzles.

And just like the adult coloring book craze of 2015, this trend is being driven at least in part by jigsaw puzzles' ability to bust stress. Research suggests that puzzles may help your brain, and even potentially prevent cognitive disorders as you age. Anecdotal evidence suggests they help with anxiety. They may even help you fall asleep at night, says Jim Horne, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychophysiology at Loughborough University in England and the author of Sleeplessness.

“It’s a bizarre recommendation,” Horne acknowledges, but still advises people try it if they're consistently stressed at night. Looking for matching pieces takes your mind off your worries, he says. “It’s a great distraction. It might sound pointless, but it’s even more pointless to lie there at night thinking about trying to go to sleep."

Kaylin Marcotte began doing jigsaws in 2015 to cope with the stress of her job at a startup. It became a habit, and a “form of meditation” for her.

“It’s relaxing because it forces you to not do a couple of things,” she says. “There’s no way to be on a screen when you’re doing it, and there’s really no way to multitask. It’s just you and your puzzle, and it’s a full-brain exercise that lets you tune out all your other concerns and stressors in that moment.” All you're brainpower goes to finding two pieces that fit perfectly together.

Marcotte got so into her puzzle hobby that she ended up developing her own company, Jiggy, which launched last month. The unique, creative pictures on each puzzle are designed by female artists only. Plus, the jigsaws are small enough to fit a standard frame and each set comes with puzzle glue, so you can show off your finished creations forever.

But even if you prefer to dismantle your jigsaw after completing it (a la sand mandala rituals), you can still benefit from the process of puzzling, Marcotte says.
“It’s all about the creation process,” she says. “And the journey,”

by Molly Longman

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