If you’re like a sizable group of curious folks, I’d bet you enjoy the occasional crossword, Sudoku, or jigsaw puzzle. And if you’re not, there’s good reason to become interested in the practice of “puzzling.”
Mind games get a lot of attention for everything from helping our memories to feeding our brains in a way that could make them healthy over the long-term. While there isn’t a lot of strong science to suggest that regular puzzling can help our brains later into life, some studies do exist, which discuss how mind games can possibly delay the onset of memory loss or Alzheimer’s.
But, even though the jury is still out on the positive long-term effects of playing with puzzles, there are still loads of other reasons why doing a puzzle can be a great thing for you every day. Here are just a few of them:
- Puzzles as a grounding exercise: One of the most popularly recommended ways to ground ourselves is by rubbing something smooth (like a river stone or beads) with our thumb or finger. Most jigsaw puzzle pieces are shaped with smooth edges or a smooth finished surface on top, making the small pieces great for conducting short periods of grounding.
- Instant, continuous gratification: Unless you’re the kind of person who competes in Sudoku championships, puzzles can take a bit of time to complete. Think about the last jigsaw puzzle you finished on your own. How long did it take? The beauty of this, though, is that puzzles bake in tons of positive feedback as your work your way toward your ultimate goal. Even if you don’t finish, the act of snapping a new piece into place or finding the answer to 6-down may be enough to boost your mood in the moment.
- Puzzles can be brain food: There’s a lot of research out there talking about how new mental challenges can strengthen your mind. Even small changes to a routine can have an impact on your brain in a good way. Puzzles can provide some much-needed diversity to our lives, especially when taken on in favor of watching another six episodes of our favorite rerun on Netflix.
- Puzzles pair well with other fun things: Jigsaw puzzles especially can be great social challenges. One of my favorite things in the world is having a game night with friends. But, if you’d prefer to take on these challenges solo, it can always be nice to curl up with some relaxing music, a glass of wine, and a 500-piece puzzle.
What are some of the reasons you like (or perhaps don’t like) puzzles?