And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? . . . And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.
- Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Those “puzzlers” that we rely on — our brains — can use all the help they can get to stay in shape. Just like the rest of our body, with regular exercise our “puzzler” maintains a healthy level of fitness and is less likely to get, well, sore.
Here’s the good news: jigsaw puzzles are a fantastic way to exercise your brain. Check out these Brain Boost facts:
Jigsaw puzzles are like personal trainers for your gray matter, stimulating continuous activity throughout all parts of your brain. This increases their efficiency and capacity. Also, while you are memorizing colors and shapes, hunting down that funky piece with red and black stripes, your short-term memory is getting a shot in the arm. You may never lose your car keys again.
Jigsaw puzzles engage BOTH brain hemispheres – right-brain functions and left-brain functions. Your logical left brain is a problem solver. Your creative right brain likes to look at the big picture and is more intuitive and subjective. When you work on a jigsaw puzzle, you are causing both sides of your brain to work in tandom.
Working on and solving jigsaw puzzles makes us alert, increases our concentration and expands our creativity. More good news: because it is a calm, quiet activity — unlike a madcap evening of, say, B-I-N-G-O — putting together jigsaw puzzles slows our breathing, reducing our heart rate and blood pressure.
Dopamine is something you want more of. A chemical produced by the brain that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, dopamine production is increasedwhen your brain is engaged in working through a jigsaw puzzle. It also helps regulate movement and emotional responses. Dopamine deficiency results in Parkinson’s Disease; also, people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction. Keep in mind that a little healthy addiction to jigsaw puzzles is good for you!
Jigsaw puzzle meditation? Yep. Turns out putting together jigsaw puzzles and focusing on the same image for long periods of time actually mimics meditation, bringing calm and peace of mind. Ommmmm . . .
Finally: think of working a jigsaw puzzle as a little therapy session. Every now and then, our lives may seem, well, puzzling. The simple activity of losing ourselves in the peaceful practice of working on a jigsaw puzzle often helps us to have a subconscious shift of piecing together parts of our lives that we could not see clearly before. What was hazy in our mind may now more closely match the picture on the “lid.”