When thinking about jigsaw puzzles, you may just think of them as a hobby; something to do when you want to pass the time. However, whilst there is no exact science to back the health benefits behind completing puzzles, there have been many studies over the years that suggest jigsaw puzzles are a great workout for your brain.
From improving your memory to lowering stress levels, here are 7 reasons why jigsaw puzzles are an amazing and effective way to workout your brain.
Improve Memory and Mental Speed
When piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, you need to remember where similar pieces are, the shape of a piece that you are looking for and even the design or colour. By using these memory techniques, you are strengthening neural connections and creating new connections.
When exercising your brain in this way, you are improving your mental speed, increasing your thought process and improving your short-term memory. All in all, it is a great way to fire up your neurons.
Back in May, we spoke with Michelle from Dementia Prevention UK and Amelia from Country Court Care about our Piecing Together collection for people who are living with dementia. We discussed the importance of how jigsaw puzzles can help to keep the mind active and improve fine motor skills.
Exercise Both Sides of your Brain
If you didn’t know already, the brain is split into two hemispheres: the “logical” left (analytical and intellectual) and the “intuitive” right (emotion and creativity). Certain tasks throughout the day will require one side of the brain more than the other. With jigsaw puzzles however, you are able to engage both sides of your brain, giving your brain a real mental workout.
Since jigsaw puzzles require you to take different approaches to solving them, learning by trial and error, you will strengthen the left hemisphere of your brain, helping to boost your problem solving skills and think more critically.
Being able to envision an end product and identify different shapes and colours, you will strengthen the right hemisphere, which in turn improves your imagination and intuition.
Improve Cognition and Visual-Spatial Awareness
When assembling a puzzle, you need to be able to look at the individual pieces and figure out where they need to be in correspondence to the bigger picture. By completing puzzles, you are able to improve your visual-spatial skills, which is the ability to tell where objects are in a space. This includes tying shoes, reading a map, driving, playing sports and much more.
Boost your IQ Score
Along with improving your mental speed and memory, jigsaw puzzles have been suggested to improve your intelligence level too! A study from Dr. Susanne Jäggi at the University of Michigan suggested that 20 minutes of daily brain training can boost your IQ.
Since memory and concentration are required to complete jigsaw puzzles, it is no surprise that they can help to increase your intelligence.
And whilst jigsaw puzzles may not make you the next Albert Einstein, they sure are a great way to rank up more points for your IQ.
Improve your Mental Wellbeing
There is no denying that jigsaw puzzles are fun. When people have fun and enjoy themselves, there is an increased production of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, often called the “happy hormone”, which is produced in our bodies and plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It regulates mood, memory and concentration.
In other words, when you solve a problem, like a jigsaw puzzle, the feeling of accomplishment and happiness you feel afterwards is a result of dopamine being released in your body.
Experiencing this “happy hormone” is important in motivating people and improving your overall mood. Having a boost in this hormone will help in improving your overall happiness, mental health and wellbeing. So whenever you are feeling unmotivated or down, grab a jigsaw puzzle for a little pep in your step.
Lower Stress Levels
Not only do jigsaw puzzles workout your brain, but they also help you to wind down. Maybe you have had a stressful day at work or you have been a busy bee jumping from one task to another. Jigsaw puzzles help to relax our minds after a hard day, setting our minds to focus on one task, encouraging our brains to go into a meditative state.
By winding down with a jigsaw puzzle, you are able to lower your stress less and develop better coping mechanisms for trying times. This can also help to lower your blood pressure and heart rate. So whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, try sitting down with a jigsaw puzzle and enjoy a relaxing session of puzzling.
By allowing yourself to focus on one goal at a time, you are improving your brain's ability to focus on a single task. Setting out to complete a jigsaw puzzle is a task, one that you will become efficient with over time.
Channelling the same focus from jigsaw puzzles to real day tasks, such as studying or work assignments, you can experience greater levels of concentration, hence boosting your productivity. This type of brain training will help in time management and meeting deadlines, helping you to hone in on tasks set out in your daily life.
Puzzling your way to a Healthier Brain
Not only are jigsaw puzzles fun, but they are also a great brain exercise. By simply working through a jigsaw puzzle for at least 20 minutes a day, you are strengthening your neuron connections and sharpening your brain. All in all, puzzling leads to a healthier brain, therefore a healthier lifestyle.
Some of our customers agreed to this, telling us their stories on how jigsaw puzzles have helped their mental health through lockdown.
If you are interested in starting your brain workout, browse our collection of jigsaw puzzles here: https://gibsonsgames.co.uk/collections/all-puzzles
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