The Mental Health Benefits of Doing Jigsaw Puzzles

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There is a huge variety of board games and activities out there, and one of the simplest but most popular is doing jigsaw puzzles, from easy puzzles for kids to difficult puzzles for older players looking for a challenge. A puzzle can have just about any image printed on it, and they vary in piece count, from huge 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles or 2000 piece puzzles down to modest 300 piece puzzles for kids. The very idea of jigsaw puzzles is fairly old, but many consider puzzles a timeless classic pastime, and there are some mental health benefits to completing 500 or 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles, too. How can a puzzle keep someone’s mind sharp? And what are some similar hobbies that also provide good exercise for the brain?

All About Puzzles

The oldest puzzle, in a broad sense, dates back to 250 BC or so when Archimedes mentioned the dissection of a square. Meanwhile, in the late 1700s or so, British children were often given simple wooden puzzles that could be assembled into a map of the British Empire. Then, by the early 20th century or so, jigsaw puzzles as we now know them were being made and sold regularly, and this trend continues today. Jigsaw puzzles, whether little puzzles for kids or 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles, have the benefit of being cheap and easy to make and use. They don’t need electricity or advanced rules; instead, a puzzle is just a cardboard sheet with an image printed on it, and then it’s cut into many interlocking pieces.

Puzzles are a fun and simple pastime for young and older players alike, and they can be completed alone or in small groups. And what are the mental health benefits of finishing 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles? It should be noted that physical movement is central to the brain’s learning process; studies show that children only develop their full brain capacity when they get regular exercise. This includes fine motor activities such as playing with toys and doing puzzles, so moving the hands to complete a puzzle boosts the brain’s problem-solving and logic skills a great deal. Older players can keep their mind sharp by doing puzzles, and studies suggest that dementia patient scan slow down the progress of their condition by doing puzzles and related logic-heavy activities. This isn’t to say that 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles are a cure for Alzheimer’s, but then again, it can help, and it’s totally non-invasive.

On a related note, research says that doing puzzles can activate the brain and relax a person psychologically, creating a relaxed state similar to meditation. So, doing puzzles can help a distressed person relax and take their mind off things for awhile. Some puzzle players, when they are proud of completing a difficult puzzle, will frame it and hang it on the wall to show it off. This is strictly optional, though.

Related Board Games

Jigsaw puzzles of all sizes are related to both toys and board games, and the mental benefits of doing puzzles extends to other activities like sports board games, strategic miniatures games, and card games, too. Many of these are more fun for players than puzzles, and nearly all of them involve two, four, or even more players of all ages. Some are family-friendly and use simple rules and colorful graphics to appeal to kids, while adult-oriented games are detail-heavy and have many rules. These advanced games are a great way for an older player to exercise their problem-solving, critical thinking, and risk evaluation skills, and have fun the entire time. Often, this takes the form of tabletop miniatures games, which can involve many players at once and take hours to complete (and be rewarding the entire time). This also encourages good sportsmanship and provides an alternative to looking at electronic screens all day. Trading card games can have a similar effect, and there are many popular and well-known card games to choose from. Many of them appeal equally to parents and their children alike, just like jigsaw puzzles often do.


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