Online jigsaw puzzles, word games, and crossword puzzles are some of the most productive down-time activities available. For children, they can be valuable mental exercise tools that build attention span and spatial reasoning. For adults, they can keep the mind sharp and provide a great mechanism for coping with stress.
Adults often worry about becoming forgetful. They often say, “My mind isn’t what it used to be.” There are many reasons, of course, for this, but one of the most common reasons of forgetfulness is simply that we have too much to remember. As we get older, life does not always get easier. Having the kids grown and out of the house doesn’t always mean that life becomes simpler – it often means that we shift into high gear, living our lives for ourselves, now, rather than for the kids.
With that scenario in mind, the ability to turn to a 5 minute online jigsaw puzzle or Scrabble game takes on new significance. As deadlines loom, bills start piling up, and projects remain in queue, our brains can become overwhelmed and unable to see any results.
Living in the American Southwest, and learning to drive in 100+ degree weather, I soon learned what it means to “vapor lock”. That’s when gas in the gas tank turns into vapor because of too much unrelenting heat. In that situation, there is no liquid fuel to pump into the engine, and it stops running. The only solution to vapor lock is to pull over to the side of the road, muscle the lid off of the gas tank, and let fresh air into the tank. After a short rest, the gasoline is back to liquid stage, and you can continue on your journey.
Our brains are like that. Sometimes, they get “vapor locked”, and just shut down. The only solution is to stop what you are doing, and do something else. Take a break. For me, it’s online jigsaw puzzles and word games. Just a couple of minutes of working a 60 piece puzzle or short crossword puzzle, and my body relaxes. My mind, diverted, also relaxes, and often the solution to the problem-du-jour becomes as clear as glass.
Online jigsaw puzzles are great for people of all ages in strengthening problem solving. It uses the logical and logistical side of the brain, as well as the artistic and intuitive side of the brain. Very few activities actually do this, but the exercise of matching shapes, colors, and going from small to big-picture is a great way to regain mental balance and open up the creative, problem solving abilities that often lie dormant.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I’ll take any victory I can get – even if it is completing a puzzle online jigsaws . When it seems like everything I do gets messed-up, and every answer I give is wrong, I can at least point to that beautiful picture that I just pieced together as a victory, however minor, in my day.
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