Feeling stressed out? You’re not alone. As the adage goes: adulting is hard!
We all have a lot on our minds, and the human condition naturally inclines us to pay attention to stressors. News and social media feeds tend to double down on these biases. So it should come as no surprise that we feel more anxious today than in the past few decades.
Puzzles have proven to be incredibly popular in the last few years, in large part because they help us cope with the distractions and stress in our lives.
Proof in the Puzzling
You might think, “Puzzles as stress relief? Really!?”
Recent research suggests that solving puzzles helps with stress in two main ways. First, puzzles provide leisure-based timeouts to regulate our emotions. These personal timeouts allow us to focus our minds on one task, letting all other worries fall by the wayside. When you’re absorbed in a puzzle, the worries of the world can take a back seat.
Secondly, puzzles can help by accessing your dopamine reserves. As an immersive creative activity, puzzles can provide predictable mood enhancement by delivering dopamine to your brain in a healthy way. StumpCraft puzzles are especially good at promoting a state of flow with novel, fun and whimsical pieces.
Unplug, unwind and recharge
With so many technological distractions competing for our attention, it can be liberating to regularly prioritize some personal quiet time. StumpCraft puzzle designer Jasen Robillard believes a weekly puzzle ritual can be that nudge to slow down and relax.
“When I puzzle, I typically have my notifications silenced,” he says. “I’ll have a nice cup of tea and a favourite album playing quietly in the background. Then it’s just me and the puzzle. I enjoy sorting through the various shapes and colours, picking out interesting shapes and listening to the wooden pieces click into place.”
Part of the fun is discovering what works best for your puzzling routine: time of day, favourite spot, lighting a candle, for example. By taking on such playful experimentation, puzzling acts as a visual and tactile reminder of the beauty in connections and the capacity to fit things together in their proper place.
Zen at your fingertips
While meditation apps and teachers typically encourage you to focus on the breath, puzzles provide an alternate object of attention. Each puzzle piece is like one breath or a moment in time. Deep states of relaxation can be unlocked by picking up a piece, examining it and then letting it go to focus on another.
As with meditation, puzzles remind us of the art of noticing. Studies suggest that puzzling and meditation share a variety of cognitive benefits, including reduced stress levels and better mental clarity, both of which help protect against cognitive decline and dementia.
In a world where anxiety levels are rising, take a puzzle pause and make something beautiful, one piece at a time.
For a fun, mindful relaxation activity, visit stumpcraft.com to browse a full catalogue of puzzles.
This content was supplied by the advertiser for commercial purposes. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Avenue staff.