There’s a quiet movement going on in this country, and it doesn’t involve apps, data or the latest fashion. After vinyl records, coloring books and traditional board games, puzzles are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Maybe because it’s a chance to disconnect and give yourself and your family an escape from the information overload that buzzes into the very fabric of our lives 24/7. 7.
Keeping children (or yourself) away from screens, devices, and even TVs can be a nearly impossible task, but it’s vital for our mental and even physical health. A puzzle requires your full attention and therein lies the magic. Everyone from tweens and teens to millennials and overworked parents to the elderly are coming back to this quiet childhood pastime. Call it a retro revolution.
Ravensburger, a company that has been making high-quality, premium puzzles for 134 years, recently partnered with Target to bring a new line of 500 and 1,000 piece puzzles because everyone can benefit from jigsaw puzzles.
(TIP: Start with the 500-piece puzzle. They’re designed to strike the perfect balance between challenge and solvability.)
Here are some benefits of the puzzle that might surprise you.
Puzzles exercise the left and right sides of your brain at once
Your left brain is logical and linear, while your right brain is creative and intuitive. When you do a puzzle, both parties are engaged, according to Sanesco Health, an industry leader in neurotransmitter testing. Think of it as mental training that improves your problem-solving skills and attention span. It’s no surprise that Bill Gates admits to being a passionate puzzler.
Puzzles improve your short-term memory
Can’t remember what you had for lunch yesterday? Puzzles can help with this. Doing a puzzle strengthens the connections between brain cells, improves mental speed and is a particularly effective way to improve short-term memory.
Puzzles improve your visual-spatial reasoning
When you make a puzzle, you need to look at the individual pieces and figure out where they will fit into the big picture. If you do this regularly, you’ll improve visuospatial reasoning, which helps with driving a car, packing bags, using a map, learning and following dance moves, and more.
Puzzles are a great meditation and anti-stress tool
Concentrating on an image for a long period of time, with no extraneous thoughts entering your mind, is meditation in itself. By doing a puzzle, you get the same benefits as if you were meditating. The stress of everyday life evaporates and is replaced by a sense of peace and tranquility that lowers your blood pressure and heart rate.
Puzzles are a great way to connect with family
Starting a puzzle and keeping it on a table in your living room or kitchen is an invitation for the whole family to participate, whenever they have a few minutes to sit down and concentrate. It’s a tactic that parents of teens can use to start a conversation while working toward a common goal.
Conversely, puzzles are great for spending time alone
Puzzling is perfect for people who want a quiet, solitary break from the hustle and bustle and relentless stimulus of today’s digital lifestyle.
You’ll live longer, better if you puzzle regularly
Studies show that people who do puzzles and crosswords have a longer lifespan with less risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss or dementia. Puzzling stimulates the brain and actually wards off the plaque that is the marker of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Neurology. The study compared brain scans of 75-year-olds to those of 25-year-olds. Older people who regularly did puzzles had brain scans comparable to 25-year-olds.
Doing puzzles is good for your mind, body, and spirit. So on your next Lazy Sunday (or better yet – Crazy Monday), unplug, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and let yourself be carried away by a puzzle.