There’s a lot of discussion nowadays about mindfulness and mental health. We are bombarded with technology from every direction. We are constantly “on” with no downtime, always checking various social media, messaging apps and taking phone calls even when we’re in a queue for the cash till. Life is fast, it’s not surprising that there are increased mental health problems, difficulty concentrating and an inability to relax or sleep. We’ve trained ourselves to live fast, eat on the go and multi-task.
We’ve got more friends than ever to keep up with, but no time to see them. We go out to dinner with family and have to fight the urge to check our phones. Look around sometimes and you’ll notice couples barely talking to one another because their eyes are trained on their smartphones. We’ve lost the ability to converse and spend time with one another. It’s no surprise that we’re stressed with life and feeling lacklustre about modern living.
One way to turn things around and improve your mental well being is to look to your childhood for ways to play. Some people love to use adult colouring books to find their zen creative side. Other people have taken up knitting or crochet and even a new musical hobby. A really lovely pastime that can give you hours of pleasure and bring you to a state of relaxed calm is to do a jigsaw puzzle.
Research has shown that solving puzzles, crosswords and taking up new hobbies can increase mental alertness and slow the ageing process. One of the wonderful things about jigsaw puzzles is that they appeal to the child in all of us and bring us back to a place where we are happy to play mindlessly and lose track of time. One study known as the McArthur study has shown that people who do crosswords, jigsaws and other puzzles as well as remaining active, helps to develop new connections throughout the brain. Indeed, jigsaw puzzles are often used to help patients who have had a brain injury to improve their cognitive function because they help to engage both the creative right side of the brain and the logical left side.
Asides from a great sense of accomplishment when you manage to complete a substantial part of a jigsaw, they are an incredibly addictive hobby because they help you to relax and can hold your attention for hours. They’re also a very social hobby and are something that all the family can take part in around the kitchen table whilst catching up on the day. Conversations can still carry on while you’re searching for that elusive corner piece! Unlike when your kids are engrossed in their mobile phones and being bombarded with potentially harmful media, jigsaws help us all to switch off and focus on something more constructive. Solving puzzles and focusing on jigsaws has been shown to increase the levels of dopamine we produce. Dopamine causes us to feel euphoria, bliss, motivation and increased concentration. It also assists in creating new pathways in the brain as a neurotransmitter. That’s the scientific reason we should do jigsaw puzzles.
Asides from these known mental health benefits, jigsaw puzzles are sheer unadulterated fun. You can get a myriad of different subject matter from Gibsons Jigsaws which include beautiful local towns like Ambleside and Padstow to geographical puzzles of the British Isles. There are even jigsaw puzzles showing Lancaster bombers, spitfires or even trooping the colour. There really is something for everyone.
The beauty of adult jigsaws is that once you’ve completed the puzzle, you’re left with a beautiful picture which you can either decide to break up and put back in the box, or glue it all together and put it up on the wall. You might even decide to swap some them with your friends so you can double your fun.
As well as a keen sense of accomplishment when you fit illusive and difficult piece of the jigsaw together, doing jigsaw puzzles gives you a meditative mindset which helps to reduce anxiety and may even help you to solve other problems by seeing them in a new light. Often when we’re stressed we find it hard to focus on anything. Focusing on solving a jigsaw puzzle can increase our ability to concentrate on other tasks by calming us down due to the effects of dopamine. Doing jigsaw puzzles is a really simple way to improve your creativity levels and lifts your mood to new heights improving your mental health and general well being. So instead of scrolling through social media, why not look for a new creative challenge and discover the world of adult jigsaw puzzles. If you’re looking for a challenge, you could always try a 3D jigsaw puzzle which will challenge your dexterity too!