As many of us have been spending more time at home these days due to the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders, the need for distractions that are both calming and creative has become all the more urgent. Though Netflix, Disney+, and other streaming services can help to while away the hours, television isn't the panacea we hoped it would be. We want a pastime that will help pass the time, sure, but one that will also leave us improved for the effort. It's a big ask, but it turns out there is a hobby that accomplishes exactly that: jigsaw puzzles.
Jigsaw puzzles have become such a hot commodity during the quarantine that some stores are completely sold out, and it's easy to understand why. Puzzles are cheap, family-friendly, and offer a sense of accomplishment at a time when many other goals have fallen by the wayside. But jigsaw puzzles are more than just a way to get your kids to unplug from their devices (hopefully).
Jigsaw puzzles have a surprising impact on brain health. By challenging our short-term memory to determine which pieces might fit together, we give it a boost, as well as improve our problem-solving skills. It turns out that trying to find that perfect match is actually forcing us to form theories and test hypotheses as well as giving our visual-spatial reasoning a workout. If that all sounds impressive, it is — or at least the potential results are. Studies have found that doing jigsaw puzzles can delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Conversely, watching three or more hours of television a day as a habit can lead to worsened cognitive performance.
Time to look in the closet for that thousand-piecer, isn't it?