Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

13th May 2019

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week (Mind.co.uk, 2019).
Mental Health Awareness Week (13 to 19 May 2019) was established to educate and increase awareness about mental illness and to help make sure no one experiences a mental health problem alone.

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There are lots of ways to make a mental health problem more manageable, and regularly completing jigsaw puzzles is just one method that has proven results. Puzzling reduces stress by occupying and engaging the mind to create a sense of calm and serenity (SPBH.org, 2017). As a puzzle is pieced together, external worries and stress decreases as the mind focuses on an activity that is both meditative and satisfying.

A recent study by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) declares that solving jigsaw puzzles is a “low-cost, intrinsically motivating, cognitive leisure activity”. The beauty of a jigsaw is that it can be an excellent solo activity but can also bring people together and combat loneliness when solved with in a group. Mind UK reports that loneliness and mental health are intrinsically linked, as having a mental health problem increases your chance of feeling lonely and feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health (Mind.org, 2018).

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Another mental health benefit that jigsaws provide is the separation from digital devices. Smart phones and social media has a huge impact on our mental health, with a 2017 study by The Royal Society of Public Health reporting that 7 in 10 participants felt that Instagram made them feel worse about body image and half of 14-24-year-olds reported Instagram and Facebook increased feelings of anxiety (BBC.co.uk, 2018). With these stats growing every year, people are recognising the importance of having a regular digital detox and dedicating time to take a mental break away from online pressures to refocus the mind. And jigsaws provide just that.

Solving a jigsaw works both of the brain’s hemispheres which enhances our ability to focus and successfully placing a puzzle piece to create the wider picture encourages the production of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that regulates mood and affects concentration, motivation, memory and motor control (Dr Newton, 2017). Piecing together a jigsaw is a great way to combat stress, but it is also beneficial for your physical health too. By refocusing the mind away from negative and stressful thoughts decreases your cortisol and blood pressure levels, making both your body and mind healthy (Dr Newton, 2017).

Gibsons, the independent jigsaw puzzle and board game company, are looking to encourage people to start puzzling and have over 300 different puzzles in their range, which means that there is something for everyone, no matter what your age or interests.

Mental Health Awareness Week is a great opportunity to open up and start a discussion about mental health and there are lots of ways you to get involved. Head over to Mind’s website to find out more.

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