10 Health & Wellbeing Benefits Of Jigsaw Puzzles

When was the last time you did a jigsaw puzzle? I’ll admit they aren’t the first thing I turn to when I have a bit of spare time and yet every time I do one I remember just how much I like them. It doesn’t even matter what the jigsaw is of, or how many pieces it has, there is something about that sound of searching through the pieces, the methodical sorting them out and the focus on working out how it all goes together which I find really enjoyable. And I’m not alone, jigsaw puzzles sales have boomed this year and online jigsaw puzzle sites have grown in popularity, as they are reported to have lots of benefits for long term health and wellbeing.

A 1000 piece jigsaw in a pile with a young hand with pink chipped nail vanish holding a piece of the rebel girls jigsaw
Jigsaw puzzles are fun and good for you too

So How Do Jigsaw Puzzles Improve Your Health and Wellbeing?

They help you to relax and feel happy

Feeling stressed for long periods of time can have a negative affect on your health, but jigsaws can help. Sitting down to complete a jigsaw is an immersive activity which requires attention. It takes you away from the thoughts that may be worrying you, relieving stress and making you more relaxed. It also makes you happier and gives you a dopamine boost as you see the jigsaw coming together.

When there is a lot on your mind it can be hard to clear your thoughts for relaxing activities like meditation, but the focus required to complete the jigsaw can distract you for long enough to give your body a break.

They reduce anxiety

When we were faced with lockdown in the spring people didn’t turn to new activities because they were bored, but because it gave them something they could have control over and a sense of achievement when everything was a little crazy and up in the air. Jigsaws work in the same way, they are a fun activity with a goal you can achieve. Working on one helps you feel a sense of control and order than can reduce anxiety in unsettled times.

They entertain you

That’s not to say boredom isn’t a good reason to do a jigsaw. As the colder weather looms with more threats of lockdown having activities to pass away the time at home will be helpful on those long nights. Sometimes you want something more engaging than the TV, but not quite as taxing as learning a new language, Tu parles Francais? Non, je suis trop paresseux pour cela. A jigsaw is that perfect middle ground. If you want to stock up for the days ahead The Works has a great selection of jigsaws for all ages.

sisters completing a jigsaw puzzle together
Working together to complete a jigsaw

They can improve family relationships

Opening a large jigsaw, pouring it on the table and the having the whole family working together to complete the picture is a great way of connecting with each other. Ok, in our case it’s not the whole family because my son would try and eat some of the pieces, but the rest of us work well as a team. There isn’t a lot of conversation, but we divide up the tasks and while focused on our own areas we are working towards a common goal. It's great when we help each other to find an invisible piece.

Jigsaws take the pressure away from forcing conversations, they build companionship and after a tough time make you realise that actually you do all like each other after all.

They help develop communication skills

Working on a jigsaw with friends or family means working together as a team. For children especially it can be a great way to improve their communication skills by getting them to describe the pieces they are looking for. Each jigsaw piece is different and they aren’t always easy to describe, needing to think of something that stands out about that piece and communicate it to everyone else is a great skill to develop.

They improve attention

There is a reason there isn’t a lot of general chit chat when people are working on jigsaws: you get absorbed into the process and they are completed fastest when people focus on the activity. Regularly completing jigsaws are a great way to build your attention span because the more pieces a jigsaw has (and the longer it takes to do) the more attention and persistence you need.

They help improve your memory

Jigsaws help improve your memory in several ways. You need to remember the shape and colours of the piece you are looking for one piece at a time, scanning all the potentially similar pictures and comparing them to the image you have of the required piece in your head. Once found you need to put that image aside mentally and look for the next piece. Not getting confused between the different pieces you are looking for is great for working on your memory skills. There are always a few pieces you can’t find initially and keeping these in the back of the mind in case you come across it later uses a slightly longer term memory skill.  

They improve general brain health

To keep our brains healthy and working efficiently it’s obviously important to eat well and exercise, but we need to ensure we are exercising our minds too. Jigsaw puzzles encourage us to use our brain in a different way to the everyday routine tasks we complete. Completing a jigsaw requires us to identify patterns, rotate images in our head (improving spatial awareness), be observant and match colours. These are similar skills to those in brain training games which are believed to make the brain work more efficiently, but with all the other added benefits of jigsaws mentioned in this post. 

A wentworth wooden jigsaw puzzle with hot air balloons on. Some of the pieces are interest shapes like a squirrel and a bird
Jigsaws are a great way to escape the stresses of everyday life for a while

They improve and maintain fine motor skills and hand to eye coordination 

Whether it is a toddler working on completing their first jigsaw or an 80 year old experienced puzzler picking up the pieces carefully and putting them in place without messing up the rest of the picture requires some care and dexterity. The delicate finger movements that are needed for a jigsaw are great to develop and maintain making it easier to do other every day skills like doing buttons up and picking up fluff. 

They encourage curiosity

It’s not just the assembling of the jigsaw that you can benefit from, but the image on it too. We recently reviewed the Rebel Girls jigsaws which led to me learning more amount some of the featured women and many other jigsaws will encourage people to learn more about a place, painting or activity.

Jigsaws aren’t all good though. If you don’t want the rest of your body to pay the price make sure you maintain good posture while completing the jigsaw and stretch your neck, back and shoulders afterwards. It’s also worth counting the pieces before you start because investing all that time into completing a puzzle it can be very frustrating to find pieces are missing.

***Disclosure: this is a collaborative post***

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