Why Jigsaw Puzzles are so relaxing, soothing and can even be a pleasantly addictive pastime
Many people ask why jigsaw puzzles can be so relaxing & calming and why they seem to take us away from the everyday hubbub and stress of modern day living.
The short answer is, jigsaw puzzles have the ability to concentrate the mind on the actual puzzle, thereby giving you that much needed break from the everyday trails, pressures, and the stresses of modern day living. Never has this more true than in 2020, with the covid19 pandemic, though to be fair this is not the only time in history that jigsaw puzzles have served such a purpose.
For example, during the great depression, (which started in the United States in 1929 and spread throughout the western world, lasting till 1939), there was a massive surge in the buying of jigsaw puzzles. They became a cheap and pleasant way of disengaging from the troubles of that time, since many families could not afford expensive recreational activities.
During 2020, due to covid 19, sales of jigsaw puzzles rocketed and created an actual shortage, with the laws of ‘supply and demand’ coming into play.
Initially, the sales were due to people being stuck at home with little to do, and pastimes like assembling jigsaw puzzles enabled them to occupy their time.
However, during this period a lot of people found a deeper sense of solace and comfort in completing puzzles, something which regular puzzlers had known for a long time.
Many have found assembling jigsaw puzzles to be challenging to the brain, giving them a sense of well being and a feeling of achievement when completed, in addition to turning out to be a really enjoyable leisure pastime. Placing a piece in a jigsaw puzzle can be very rewarding and fulfilling for an individual.
Perhaps, just as importantly people have found that doing jigsaw puzzles gives them a sense of control, which as times such as covid19, they do not have. In doing a puzzle you have complete and utter control on the outcome, you know it will end and you get the feeling of relief and accomplishment when completed. Psychologically, this is a very strong contributing factor to the sense of well being.
To quote Patrick K Porter, creator of ‘BrainTap Technologies’ “The conscious mind is known as a servomechanism, meaning it is goal-striving” he continues “During quarantine, when we have no environmental changes from one day to the next, it can feel like we’re living in Groundhog Day, as depicted in the Bill Murray movie. Jigsaw puzzles provide a challenge that gives this goal seeking behaviour an outlet. With each puzzle piece found, the puzzler gets a little hit of dopamine, which soothes the brain, and this reward then climaxes with the puzzle’s completion”.
When concentrating and being totally engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle, many people feel a sense of calm, experiencing peacefulness, and this can result in a lowering of your blood pressure and easing current anxieties.
With puzzles you are, of course, putting together something that already exists and you can be assured of a pleasing outcome, in addition to the fact there are so many different types of puzzles these days, everyone can find something that will suit them.
While many have found, or know, that doing jigsaw puzzles on your own is it a great pastime, others have discovered that it can also be great entertainment for the whole family. Many families have recently taken up the fashion of leaving a jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen, or living room, table and family members just sitting down and adding to the puzzle as when they feel like doing so.
As mentioned earlier in this article, doing jigsaw puzzles require a certain amount of concentration that takes us out of ourselves and everyday worries and concerns and doing a jigsaw puzzle can also give you a similar experience to meditation.
Time can pass unnoticed when assembling a puzzle, your mind moves into a different state of being and concentrates on a sole objective, in this state of mind your brain locks out all other thoughts, taking you away from your worries, much the same as meditating will do.
Ironically in this state of mind, your brain can even process other feelings and worries you may be feeling, de-stressing your body and mind.
So to recap, the reasons people find doing jigsaw puzzles so soothing and relaxing, even addictive can be down to several factors.
- There is a clear purpose
- They give you a sense of control and you know there will be a final satisfactory outcome
- You get a feeling of accomplishment
- They can be an meditative experience
- Assembling jigsaw puzzles is something that can be done with other family members
- They can be an escape from all that surrounds you
If you don’t already do them, I guess the best way to test all this is to do a puzzle and see what benefits they bring for you.