Puzzles for mental health

A word search with a two small white Lego flowers and one large Lego flower.
Aren’t puzzles just for kids and grandmas? Victoria Baht

More than just good fun

Puzzles are a great way to spend time, work your brain, and improve your mental health. This activity even has some amazing benefits such as improving memory, attention to detail, decreasing stress levels, and increasing mood.  

As you work on a puzzle, no matter the way or form, you are encouraging your brain to think on the spot. Then, once you solve a puzzle, the brain releases a hormone known as dopamine. You are encouraging your brain cells to “connect.” 

But what is classified as a puzzle? When you think of a puzzle, you may think of little pieces of cardboard that have different shapes and sizes that fit together to create a picture. Well, that is a classic form of a puzzle. 

However, there are many different hobbies that can be classified as a puzzle. If you spend time partaking in activities like Sudoku, Xs and Os, crosswords, or word searches, then you are solving puzzles. 

baileyspuzzles.com is a website with a great list of all sorts of different kinds of puzzles from across the globe. On the home page, there are a bunch of different kinds of puzzles with all the necessary details, instructions on how to play, free downloadable puzzles, and plenty more. 

When you do a puzzle, you focus on what you need to do to fill that blank spot. Do you need a certain letter, a number, or a colour? It all depends on the type of puzzle.  

But, as your brain is trying to figure out the correct answer, you are encouraging your brain cells to connect. This means you are stimulating your brain. As your brain is working to find the correct answer, your body releases dopamine. 

Dopamine is a chemical that is released in response to success and achievement, and anticipation of progress. For example, when you complete a puzzle. Dopamine helps regulate your mood, and improve your concentration.  

Progress Lifeline’s article “The benefit of puzzles for the brain” details many other benefits of doing puzzles. 

If doing a traditional puzzle isn’t your vibe, try Lego. Building and creating with Lego can have many of the same benefits as doing a puzzle, since they activate similar parts of the brain. 

Brain Tree Games’ article “Lego vs. Jigsaw Puzzle: Which is the Better Activity for Kids and Adults?” describes the benefits of building with Legos and solving jigsaw puzzles. Both Lego and jigsaw puzzles improve problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and sequencing skills that help children learn to follow instructions. 

Now that we know what kinds of puzzles are out there and the benefits of doing puzzles, where can you find puzzles in Regina? There are a few locations where you can find puzzles or jigsaw-like puzzle books like Zippity Zoom Toys, ABCD Gift, and Paper Umbrella. There are plenty of free downloadable puzzles across the web too, and hundreds of puzzle apps available for your phone. You can also visit a Regina Public Library location to sit down and enjoy some puzzling there. 


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