Taking mental health seriously has become more important than ever, and following lockdown – we realised that taking pause and having some ‘me’ time really helped with overthinking and anxiety.
There are so many ways that you can give yourself a break, however here at Prints in Pieces, we (obviously) prefer some down time with puzzles!
We wanted to take a deeper look at the benefits to mental wellbeing of jigsaws and the impact it has on cognitive function and brain health, so we have put together this piece taking a look at the different studies and opinions out there around the true impact of doing them. We have broken this down into the following sections:
Meditation is a great way to increase self-awareness, increase your focus on the day and ultimately can help you to think about triggers in your life than can cause overthinking and stress.
Although (thankfully) COVID-19 in the news isn’t as common as it once was, a study was carried out on people who undertook 10 minutes of mindfulness each day and the impact that had on their overall wellbeing and affective states after watching covid related news over a 10 day period. It was observed that the group who undertook meditation showed a more positive outlook than those who did not.
This highlights how meditation is an accessible and cheap way to elevate a positive mindset. That being said, meditation isn’t for everyone – but taking a moment away from the stresses with doing something away from screens we think is a great way to bring some mindfulness into your everyday life.
Over 300 million people globally struggle with depression. Although jigsaw puzzles on their own do not have the ability to prevent or treat depression, it can create great habits which allow self-reflection and down time.
In this study, the puzzle actually displayed physical and mental symptoms of depression so as the person was completing the puzzle, it reminded them of things to look out for.
We believe the sense of accomplishment, distraction from negative thoughts and the relaxing effect of doing a puzzle could help people who struggle with depression. If you're looking for a way to boost your mental wellbeing, doing jigsaw puzzles is a great option. Not only can it provide a peaceful distraction from everyday stress, but it could also have a positive impact on cognitive function and brain health.
Keeping brain active
Here at PIP HQ, we have done hundreds of jigsaw puzzles when researching our designs from 500 piece puzzles, 1,000 piece puzzles and beyond. The process of putting a jigsaw together includes problem solving, spatial reasoning and visual perception which helps stimulate your mind and can help to keep it sharp. Just like doing a daily crossword or sudoku, spending some time each day putting the pieces together is a great activity for the brain.
That being said – jigsaw puzzles on their own are not the silver bullet when it comes to keeping your brain active. Regular exercise, a good diet and an openness to new experiences are equally if not more important when it comes to a healthy mind.
No Screen Time
We have all hear about ‘blue light’ and how to avoid it before bedtime – however, with a combination of Netflix, TikTok, Instagram, and more - that is often easier said than done. We believe the main problem with screens before bed are disrupted sleep and headaches.
With a lot more people working from home, it has become even harder to ‘switch off’ from screens and do something else, which is why we think having a puzzle on the go can really help with reducing screen time, especially before bed. It also activates different areas of the brain, keeping it active and providing a healthy break from the little screen in your pocket! That brings us nicely on to...
Melatonin is the hormone which regulates the sleep wake cycle and is released by the pineal gland in the brain, helping with the timing of your circadian rhythms. As it gets dark, your body releases more melatonin and makes you feel sleepy and ready for bed. As it gets lighter, your body reduces the amount released making you feel more awake and alert.
Blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, and it can be more difficult to fall asleep. There is also evidence that it can reduce the amount of ‘deep sleep’, which is when the body usually repairs itself – all of these factors can lead to sleep debt, increasing fatigue and causing further poor quality sleep.
The easiest way to avoid this is by avoiding screens an hour before going to bed, and with your new puzzle hobby, you have the perfect excuse to do so. Spending time putting together the pieces of a puzzle is a relaxing activity, helping to calm the mind and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
So, are jigsaw puzzles good for mental health? We certainly think so! They can help to keep your mind active and provide a healthy break from screens, which can be detrimental to our sleep and overall wellbeing. Whether you’re a puzzle pro or a beginner, why not start incorporating a bit of puzzling into your daily routine and see the positive effects it can have on your mental health.
What are the benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles for mental health?
As we have just explored, jigsaw puzzles can provide a number of benefits for mental health. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety by providing a calming activity that requires focus and concentration.
Additionally, keeping the mind active and engaged is a great way to benefit cognitive health.
Can doing jigsaw puzzles improve sleep quality?
Yes, doing jigsaw puzzles can help to improve sleep quality by giving you a relaxing activity that can calm the mind and prepare the body for sleep. By reducing screen time and 'blue light' before bed and engaging in a soothing activity like puzzling, you can encourage the production of melatonin and hopefully improve the quality of your sleep.
Can jigsaw puzzles help to improve memory?
Using a variety of cognitive skills, such as problem-solving, spatial awareness, and visual perception can all help to improve memory. These skills help your brain to create and strengthen connections which can help improve memory.
Research has also shown that activities like jigsaw puzzles can help improve cognitive function in older adults. One study found that older adults who regularly did jigsaw puzzles had better cognitive function and better memory than those who didn't.
Are jigsaw puzzles good therapy?
Puzzles can be a great therapy tool! Helping to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and provide a sense of relaxation. Puzzles can also be a great way to practice mindfulness, as they require you to focus on the present moment and let go of distractions.
For those with conditions such as ADHD, puzzles can help improve focus and attention skills and encourage calmness - especially with some amazing designs from all over the world from Prints in Pieces.