Solving puzzles helps reinforce existing connections between our brain cells. It also increases the generation of new relationships. This, in turn, improves mental speed and thought processes.
Puzzles are especially good for improving short-term memory. Our short-term memory helps us remember shapes and colors and visualize the bigger picture to figure out which pieces will fit together.
Better Problem-Solving Skills
The ability to creatively solve problems and think critically is greatly valued in the workforce. Puzzles help us develop all of those important skills.
Puzzles require us to take different approaches to try and solve a problem since there’s a lot of trial and error involved. We also learn the value of formulating theories, testing hypotheses, and changing our perspectives when something doesn’t work out according to plan.
All these skills can easily be transferred to our work life to make us more innovative and adaptable employees.
Improved Visual-Spatial Reasoning
When solving a puzzle, we have to look at different pieces and figuring out where they fit within the larger picture. Doing this regularly helps improve our visual-spatial reasoning.
Better visual-spacial skills help with a number of everyday tasks, including:
Driving a car (parking, switching lanes, etc.)
Packing and figuring out how many items can fit in boxes, suitcases, or the trunks of our cars
Using a map
Visual-spatial ability is also important for people who work in certain fields, such as:
Puzzles provide improvements to our memory and overall reasoning. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the other benefits of puzzles is that they help raise our IQ (intelligence quotient).
One researcher from the University of Michigan even found that adults could boost their IQ by four points after spending 25 minutes a day playing puzzle games.
Delay Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Even if you don’t care about raising your IQ, keeping your brain active with puzzles can help delay the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies show that keeping the mind active through puzzles and other problem-solving activities can reduce the amount of brain cell damage that occurs in Alzheimer’s patients. It also supports the growth of new nerve cells and strengthens the connections between them.
Researchers have also found a correlation between the number of years someone has been solving puzzles and the likelihood that they will develop Alzheimer’s. So, the sooner you start making puzzles a regular part of your life, the better. It’s never too early to start protecting your brain.
Another one of the benefits of puzzles is that they increase our brains’ production of dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and feelings of optimism. It also affects memory, concentration, and motivation.
Dopamine is released every time we successfully solve a puzzle — or even just get one piece in the right place. This encourages us to continue working on solving them and challenging ourselves.
Lower Stress Levels
At the same time that puzzles challenge us, they also help us to relax.
Our brains also go from a “Beta,” or wakeful, state to an “Alpha” state when we’re solving puzzles. The Alpha state is similar to the state we’re in when we’re dreaming.
This shift in consciousness comes with many benefits, including:
Ability to make deeper connections
Improve our mindset
Increase our self-confidence
Increased Attention to Detail
When you’re trying to solve a puzzle help us attention to detail is crucial. You need to train your eyes to pick out slight differences in color or shape that will help you put everything together.
An ability to pick up on small details helps in every aspect of our lives, especially at work. When we’re more detailed oriented and precise, the quality of our work improves.
When we’re happier and less stressed out, it’s easier for us to concentrate. When our concentration improves, our productivity naturally skyrockets.
If you’re struggling to stay on task at work or school, consider taking a short break to solve a puzzle and reset your brain.
Many offices are actually starting to include puzzles in their breakrooms. These puzzles let employees take their minds off work for a few minutes and come back refreshed and ready to go!
If you’re looking for another reason to incorporate puzzles into your workplace, tell your boss that they’ve been proven to build collaboration between coworkers.
Researchers at Yale University found that giving people the opportunity to work together on solving puzzles allowed them to improve relationships and their abilities to cooperate to finish a task.