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Toy of the week: Puzzles

 

 

School's out for summer! School's out for ever! Well indefinitely actually. So if you are stuck at home, you are in luck because we know exactly what you should do while in lock down and isolation without any need for electronic!

For families who are dealing with young children out of school, in order for them not to get behind on their education, we have the solution for you! Here are some games you can all play together as a family in order to promote learning and of course fun and get rid of that boredom looming in the background.

Over the next couple of weeks we will be posting activities you can do together as a family while indoors.

Puzzles

Everyone loves puzzles! All the celebrities are doing them. And now is you chance to get started on one too. Puzzles are a great way to keep occupied when you are stuck indoors. Although they are often thought of as ‘toys’ and of course they are a lot of fun, they also provide a range of health benefits! Puzzles can help you relax, improve your memory, bond with family and more.

 

Did you know that the jigsaw puzzle traces its origins back to the 1700s, when it was created as an educational tool for children. It later gained mainstream popularity among adults during the Great Depression.

Why are puzzle so good in a time like this? Well let me explain!

1. Stress relief

Antidote for your anxiety and a way to meditate

Listen I think I know why everyone in the world bought all that toilet paper. It's because people are so nervous and anxious nowadays that they're spending all that time in the bathroom! Well get out of that bathroom and relieve your anxiety by making a beautiful puzzle and forget your troubles for now!

It’s a way to meditate and relieve stress. Concentrating while you sort through pieces or stare at the image for long periods of time is both meditative and satisfying.

Doing a puzzle activates both sides of your brain and makes you think but also helps you relax mentally and psychologically. Puzzles demand a level of thought, focus and patience that is bound to challenge the mind. Skimming through puzzles while contemplating the possible solutions significantly encourages your minds to relax. This alternatively assists you to achieve a better mindset and tranquility. As you connect two puzzle pieces together, your brains release dopamine, which positively affects your mood, memory, and motivation. Beyond simply passing the time on a dreary, rainy, evening, organizing these little pieces gives you a sense of control and purpose on those days when you probably feel like they are lacking.

Increase production of Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and feelings of optimism. Dopamine plays an important part in controlling the movements of a person, as well as their emotions. The right balance of dopamine is vital for both physical and mental well-being. Puzzles significantly increase the production of dopamine in your brain making you feel alert, focused, motivated and happier. Thus, a flood of dopamine can produce temporary feelings of euphoria.

This neurotransmitter also causes improved motoring skills, an increase in concentration power, optimism, confidence, and enhances memory. Additionally, dopamine is correlated to a reward-driven understanding. This means that dopamine is released when your brain is expecting a reward. When you put the right puzzle pieces together your brain is happier it completed the puzzle and releases dopamine! Because of this phenomenon, it is not uncommon that you would want to do more and more puzzles. An increase of dopamine further engraves the practice of solving puzzles. This is why most individuals often experience an intense desire to keep attempting puzzles that are increasingly challenging. This encourages you to continue working on solving them and challenging yourselves.

    2. Increased Productivity, Concentration and Ingenuity

     

    The release of Dopamine in your system will make you happier. When you’re happier, you become less stressed out, then, it’s easier for you to concentrate. When your concentration improves, your productivity improves as well. If you’re struggling to stay on task at work or school, take a break, solve a puzzle and reset your brain. Puzzles give you the ability to creatively solve problems and think critically: a skill that is greatly valued in the workforce. Puzzles require you to take different approaches to try and solve problems since there’s a lot of trial and error involved using a systematic approach. The trial and error process teaches you the value of formulating theories, testing hypotheses, and changing your perspectives when something doesn’t work out according to plan. This process makes you use both sides of the brain, the creative side and the logical side. All these skills can easily be transferred to your work or school life to make you more innovative and adaptable.

    3. Socialization

     

    Many people think that puzzles are a solo activity, but actually, solving a puzzle with someone else can improve your overall well-being! Not only does working together to complete a common goal promote teamwork, it also prevents loneliness by creating a bond with your social partners, which is vital to your health. So maybe next time you want to puzzle alone, instead invite some friends (physically or virtually) and encourage both creativity and conversation. It has a cognitive component that gets your neurons firing and keeps your brain active, and a social engagement component that keeps you from getting lonely and depressed.

    Time away from screens

     

    Screen time affects your weight, sleeping patterns, eye sight and brain health, and even cognitive development mostly in a negative way. So the less time staring at your screens the better. Give yourself a chance to spend time with some friends and family. Jigsaw puzzles aren’t just a nice alternative to social media, they actually give you the time to wind down, recharge and relax! 

     

    4. Improve Cognition, Logic and Visual-Spacial skills

    No matter how many pieces, a jigsaw puzzle will challenge your intellectual processes. You exercise your mind as you study the image and its details. As you learn to recognize the different shapes, colours and patterns, and process them as part of the larger picture, you will begin to test your problem-solving skills.

     

    Puzzles also help improve your visual-spatial skills because you must work through the different pieces, understand what they are, and how they fit into the rest of the puzzle. Visual-spatial skills are incredibly useful when it comes to everyday things such as driving, packing bags or boxes, and navigating and could also help with school subjects like geometry and math. Visual-spatial ability is also important for people who work in certain fields, such as: Architects, Engineers, Chemists, Artists and even Surgeons.

     

     

    Improving your visual-spatial skill will eventually increase your attention to detail. When it comes to solving a puzzle with multiple small pieces, you will need to train your eyes to pick out the slightest differences in colour and shape in order to  help you put everything together. The ability to pick up on small details helps in every aspect of your life, especially at work. When you’re more detailed oriented and precise, the quality of your work improves.

    5. Improve Your Memory

    Working out puzzles greatly improves the short-term memories mainly because you need to remember shapes and colours, and imagine the bigger picture, in order to determine what pieces fit together. What does this mean exactly? This means that as you scan through the puzzle pieces to find the exact colour shade you need, with the specific shape of the hole you’re looking to fill, you have to retain the details in your short-term memory. Those skills reinforce the connections between brain cells and help to create new ones, which makes your thought processing faster and also improve on your mental speed.

    Reduces the Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer's

    When you engage your cerebral cortex in games such as puzzles, the effects can greatly reduce the risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Puzzles are great problem-solving activities and when you problem solve, you start forming new nerve cells in your brain, and that can reduce the amount of brain cell damage that occurs in Alzheimer’s patients. There is an actual study published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society that found that people already living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia can be comforted by working on simple jigsaw puzzles.

    6. Improves Dexterity

    Jigsaw puzzles can improve motor skills like dexterity. When you pick through small pieces, flip them over, and fit them into small places, it exercises all those small muscles in the fingers and eyes. As puzzles come in all sorts of different forms, with different size pieces and piece-counts, they can even be used in physical therapy, recovery and in day-to-day dexterity training like holding a pencil or using scissors.

     

    However, you need to remember that every mind is unique and people possess different affinities for solving puzzles. Puzzles perform wonders for your mind and everyone, be it children, adults or even seniors, can significantly benefit from improved memory, brain chemistry, socializaiton, and creativity.

    We need to remember that now is the time to learn what it means to be a family again. We always encourage you to play together and play forever, through the good times and bad times.

    How have you been keeping occupied while indoors? We would like to hear all the creative activities you do as a family! Always time to Play Together and Play Forever!

     

     


     

    By Joanna Felemegos

     



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