The Mental Benefits of Puzzles

Puzzles, also known as “dissected maps,” were probably invented by map maker John Spilsbury in the early 1760s in England. The publishers of puzzles were often map engravers and sellers whose focus was geography. Indeed, puzzles dovetailed with the imperialist agenda of eighteenth-century England and its conquest of non-western territories. Jstor- Pandemic puzzle craze

Puzzles of the nineteenth century fell into the category of “intellectual toys” and were often advertised alongside “fancy goods for adults” as gifts for the newly developed culture of gift-giving during Christmas.

Much like life, a puzzle-related obstacle can feel insurmountable, but with fresh eyes and some time away, a solution presents itself. This is probably why puzzles can be so appealing in times of great societal upheaval such as the Great Depression when puzzles made a huge comeback: “It’s something you can control… It’s also a challenge over which you can prevail.” as stated by historian Anne Williams,

More recently travel jigsaw puzzles allow you to travel around the world without leaving your living room! You can browse famous landmarks, skylines and travel destinations like Italy, Paris, Canada and National Parks around the United States of America.

With all the tragedy, anxiety, and uncertainty stemming from the pandemic, one way to stop a fixation on social media is to literally unplug from devices and do a puzzle. You can have music or TV on in the background while puzzling, but you can’t really be on social media. Puzzling, which many adults find to be both meditative and engrossing, is particularly well-suited to staying at home.

English professor Tim Morris ruminates, in his essay on puzzling, on the various feelings the activity provokes. One of the most satisfying feelings, he writes, is progression when you’re working on a puzzle, never retrocession. And, at a certain point when you’ve completed enough of a puzzle, the drive to finish kicks in and propels you to the finish line.

In a nutshell, here are some of the benefits of puzzling:

  1. They Lower Your Stress Levels

Our minds are only on one task and that encourages our brains to go into a meditative state while working on puzzles

  1. They Enhance Your Mood

Dopamine, a brain chemical that regulates mood, is released with every success as we solve the puzzle. No wonder puzzles are so much fun!

  1. They Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

Since puzzles require us to take different approaches to solve them, we learn how to work by trial and error, formulate and test theories, and how to change tracks if not successful.

  1. They Enhance Collaboration and Teamwork

Yale University researchers found that when workers can puzzle together in the workspace it helped them improve their relationships and the ability to cooperate and teamwork.

  1. They Amplify Greater Attention to Detail

When solving a puzzle, especially if the pieces are very similar, it is crucial to pay attention to details. When we are more detailed and precise, the quality of our work improves.

  1. They Increase Productivity

When you are happier and less stressed, it is easier to focus. When your concentration improves, your productivity skyrockets.

  1. They Exercise Both Sides of Your Brain

The left side of your brain controls analytic and logical thinking and the right-side controls creativity. When you are working on puzzles, you are engaging both sides and giving your brain a real mental workout.

In a nutshell, puzzles are great for your mental health. Grab a puzzle today and enjoy!