In a world where demands on workers are higher than ever, it can be hard to stay on top of your game each and every day. These days, employees are required to work longer hours, stare at screens for pretty much all of the day, and often get very little time to unwind and decompress from the stressors of their roles.
According to The 2019 State of Employee Communication and Engagement study conducted by opens in a new windowDynamic Signal, a whopping 63% of US workers are ready to quit their jobs due to stress, which is a stark reminder of how unhappy a workplace many businesses have become.
With that in mind, sometimes the best way to overcome obstacles in life isn’t by working harder; it’s by working smarter. By doing so, you can save on energy, reduce stress levels, and even boost productivity. It’s a win-win all the way around. So, this begs the question: how can you train your brain to work smarter on everyday tasks?
Well, look no further than the humble jigsaw puzzle. Invented by a London mapmaker back in 1760, these classic pastimes provide many benefits that help keep your brain sharp and can help you perform your very best while at work. In fact, playing opens in a new windowfree online jigsaw puzzles for just a few hours per week can even protect you from serious brain-related illnesses later in life. On that note, let’s jump right into it and check out the five top benefits.
Increase problem-solving abilities
According to opens in a new windowGraduate Land, problem-solving is one of the employers’ most highly rated skills since the core ingredients are relevant to virtually any job role. In other words, if you can program your brain and learn how to solve complex problems in one area, the chances are you will also be able to do the same on another unrelated problem. It’s all about your aptitude for assessing situations, analyzing information, and generating various concepts to solve the issue.
As it turns out, playing jigsaw puzzles is an excellent way to develop problem-solving skills. They provide a platform for you to practice the concept of trial and error. This is where you learn the value of formulating theories, testing hypotheses, and changing your perspectives when something doesn’t go as planned, all of which are vital skills that are easily transferred into just about every job role in the world.
According to the opens in a new windowWorld Economic Forum, creativity matters even more than IQ since many of humanity’s greatest achievements needed imagination, curiosity, and empathy. Well, the good news is that jigsaw puzzles are great for creativity, too, since playing these games stimulates both the left and the right sides of your brain. For those of you who are unaware, the left brain is logical and works linearly, while your right brain is creative and intuitive.
Not only will the fun little puzzles make you solve problems more effectively, but they will also help you bring out your creative side too.
Your levels of concentration and productivity go hand in hand. The more you can focus on the task at hand, the more likely you will perform it to a higher standard while completing it in a shorter amount of time. Thus, if you are having trouble maintaining your concentration levels, take some time out of your day to focus on completing the jigsaw puzzle and be as mindful as possible in the process. This will train your brain to be more focused on the task at hand (without multitasking), and it will also give you a chance to disconnect from work for a few minutes and come back refreshed and ready to start again.
Jigsaw puzzles improve neural connections and increase the development of new pathways inside the brain, enhancing mental agility and cognitive processes. When you pick up a piece, you must search among the others for the color or shape that you have in mind and picture the image on a large scale to discover which pieces match together. When you train the area of the brain that is in charge of storing this information, you help to preserve and strengthen short-term memory.
In fact, opens in a new windowresearch shows that people who practice jigsaw puzzles have longer lives with reduced risks of developing Alzheimer's disease, memory loss, or dementia, functioning as a preventive factor against cognitive aging.
Since puzzles demand focus, patience, and intense thought, they can often be a great way to distress as they take your mind off whatever it is that has been bothering you. On top of this, every time you complete a jigsaw or even find that matching piece, your brain gets a rush of dopamine, which is the neurochemical associated with learning and memory. However, this same chemical is also known to opens in a new windowincrease optimism, confidence and reduce stress levels, which is great news if you work in a busy/stressful environment.
Did you know that opens in a new windowBill Gates is a huge fan of puzzles and always takes one away with him everywhere he goes? Yep, if they are good enough for the Founder of Microsoft, then they should be good enough for you too! Jokes aside, jigsaw puzzles have been proven to provide a vast array of benefits to players, most of which can help you become a smarter worker. Whether it’s boosts in concentration, improved memory, or the ability to solve problems more easily, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take a few hours out of your week to sit down and complete a jigsaw puzzle.