white and brown wooden tiles

Mental health disorders are one of the most common human non-communicable diseases worldwide which can be managed using psychological medications and supportive psychotherapies, such as in puzzle games like a jigsaw puzzle.

Now, how is it possible anyway? Let’s find out by discussing it below.

Are jigsaw puzzles good for mental health?

Mental health is described as medical conditions where the mental state of the individual isn’t normal while jigsaw puzzles are a type of board game that promotes self-satisfaction. Exposing patients to this “positive” activity may help them to see the “good” side of things.

You know, in fact, there are people between 18 years old and above in America who are affected by 26% of mental health problems annually according to the John Hopkins website.

This includes mental issues like, stress, anxiety, and depression.

Now how these mental problems be managed just by playing jigsaw puzzles as therapy anyway?

Let’s discuss and find out each of it below.

Do puzzles relieve stress?

Stress is defined as tension felt in our emotional and physical well-being as stated by Healthline, while jigsaw puzzling is form of meditating play activity, so when put together it will create a breather in a person under the state of stress.

More often than not, we are stressed in our daily life activities.

From our household chores to self-care, from work to personal relationships, and many more.

This happens because we need to cope up with those increasing “life” demands.

These tensions could build up if we don’t manage to release them from time to time.

How does puzzling gives us a breather in times of stress?

Simple. It gives us one effect, focus.

In focusing on one item alone, our brain could drop off other unnecessary things inside our heads to finish the task we’re doing at the moment when playing one.

Therefore, all our attention will be redirected to that specific task alone, making our minds free of clutter. It’s like stretching your aching neck and back when doing yoga.

I know that they’re some of you here who aren’t a Puzzler like I am.

And that’s fine, maybe you’re trying to look for an answer to ease your stress in a way that your busy life schedule and money would not be affected that much.

You’re pretty much lucky to see this post because there is one thing that you can do, and that’s playing a jigsaw puzzle!

The jigsaw puzzle is created way back 1700s for educational purposes as I have already mentioned in my article History of Jigsaw Puzzles.

While the main purpose of this game is mainly to educate children, it specifically somehow not only to educate children in general at all but mainly to educate our brain. And that applies to all, well all of us do literally have brains, right?

How does jigsaw puzzle affect the brain?

Our brain is divided into 2 parts: the cerebrum and the cerebellum.

The cerebrum is the larger part of our brain where all our brain activities like, thinking, remembering, learning, and even our emotional being are controlled, while the cerebellum is the part of our brain where mostly about our voluntary movements are linked into.

Having said that, in playing jigsaw puzzles, these two parts of our brain are activated and works hand in hand to finish the task but in order to do that, our brain should drop other thing off first to solve the puzzle right in front of you.

You see, our brain cannot work properly if it has many things to take care of.

That’s why other unnecessary things that the brain is not useful at the moment are therefore set aside.

Just like doing yoga.

In yoga, you need to focus on your body’s feeling to be aware to where the tension is and focus on that area alone release some. That’s how jigsaw puzzle works!

Cool huh?

Do puzzles help with anxiety?

As described by Healthline, anxiety is our body’s response of feeling fear and worry due to undefinable or unknown stress, on the other hand, jigsaw puzzling is a de-stressing activity as mentioned above. Meaning, this will help anxious people to let go of their excess baggage of worry and fear within them.

As I have mentioned above, stress is the tension felt by our body and with overflowing stress it will result to anxiety.

So what is anxiety exactly?

Anxiety is a severe form of excessive worry and fear in a known or unknown stressor in the environment.

Meaning, our brain’s emotional part is activated to give signals or cues for us to prepare for the upcoming worst-case scenario.

What I am saying is that there are times when we are in a new situation that is way beyond our control.

That is the time when our body tends to tense up and be nervous for we do not know what will happen next.

As the saying goes,

Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all.”

– Yvon Chouinard

With that, anxiety kicks in. Well, it is pretty normal to be anxious at times, however, our anxious minds somehow can go overboard. It can keep on repeating scenarios in our head making it worse.

The good thing is, we can control it.

I believe in the saying that,

“Mind over matter.”

This means that whatever we put inside our head will be our interpretation of our reality.

In short, we can control what is going in or out of our head if we know exactly what are we thinking of.

You see, self-awareness is a big key in this one.

What’s the connection of doing puzzles to anxiety, anyway?

Well, here’s a short formula for you to understand properly.


I know some of you may feel “anxious” just by reading the word “formula” because sometimes it is followed by mathematical problem-solving activities, right?

Don’t worry, we’re on the same boat, I also fear “numbers” which is why I intended to take a science-related degree in college however, “numbers” still surprise me there. HAHA!

Enough of my “anxious story about numbers”. All I wanted is that you may somehow feel a little bit of anxiety at this point of your reading so you can experience first-hand how to deal with it right now.

So, here it goes.

The formula I have presented above maybe somehow intimidating at first glance, right?

This is the same when doing a jigsaw puzzle for the first time too because we don’t know what, when, where, and how we will start.

The thing is, we need to understand what we are trying to solve here first.

On the formula above, I’ve written that:


This means that when we’re faced with a difficult and unknown situation, these feelings of fear, threat, and harm overflows to which we call anxiety.

The good news is, we’re now aware of when this feeling kick in therefore we can address it before it gets worse.

In order to control the tension in our heads, we need to divert or counteract those negative feelings.

How? By redirecting our minds in a different route of action, say for example playing jigsaw puzzles.


In this formula, playing jigsaw puzzles can turn on our brain’s focus and concentration in one thing alone, dropping off other unnecessary information in our brain thus, making it more clutter-free.

With that, we can feel the sense of leisure and relaxation at the time being.

So, to combine things together,


When you feel anxious, you need to first acknowledge and be aware that you are anxious.

From there, pick up an activity that will make your mind drop off unnecessary information to focus on one thing alone, in this case, I suggest you play mind games like jigsaw puzzles.

I have an article to where you could choose what type of jigsaw puzzle would you like to play on for your “me time” soon.

And that’s how you take control of you noisy mind.

Awareness and acknowledge first then redirect your focus.

Is a jigsaw puzzle good for depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder where most of the time, the affected person is extremely down in life. One example of psychotherapy that can be used with this health condition is jigsaw puzzling.

Nowadays, depression is increasing among people. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, it affects more than 264 million individuals around the world!

They say it is more than being just sad.

It is like more of a deep hole where you do not know how to escape to.

Depression is not just an “act” like others are saying because it has various types of causes.

It may be because of the person’s genetic makeup, negative and traumatic life experiences, or even the structure of the brain as well.

What is concerning is that their life disposition is really not good at all.

It’s full of negative thoughts and emotions where they cannot escape at all.

So, what are those symptoms usually felt by these patients?

Here are some of the commonly seen symptoms in depressed patients

  1. Extreme sense of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
  2. Lack of interest in daily life activities
  3. Insomnia and body aches
  4. Trouble in critical thinking
  5. Suicidal thoughts and suicidal attempts

Now, as I have been mentioning, again and again, the key in everything that is bothering our minds is the acknowledgment and awareness that there is.

This is the most important and crucial step of mental health treatment.


Medical intervention will only be done when you seek help.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, instead, it is a sign of strength that you have come to bring out within yourself.

Luckily, depression is treatable when diagnosed properly.

So, when the doctor prescribed anti-depressant drugs, they usually add up some psychotherapy with their patients to rewire the way of their thinking.

One psychotherapy that is being used is cognitive therapy.

In this therapy, the patient’s brain will undergo brain exercise to strengthen its ability to think and process things.

And you know what? Our favorite jigsaw puzzles could also that job!

You see, there is a study in 2018 which states that playing jigsaw puzzles has beneficial effects on multiple cognitive abilities of the elderly.

With that scientific evidence, people with depression could alleviate their symptoms when playing one!

You see, when playing jigsaw puzzles, release of happy hormones happens that will make anyone’s body feel light and positive for some time.

Isn’t it a good news!

Jigsaw puzzles isn’t only a game for us Puzzlers, but also a way to help other people suffering from mental health problems.

I couldn’t be more happier with that fact!

Is a jigsaw puzzle good for your brain?

So the final question is, is jigsaw puzzle good for the brain?

Yes, it is.

Again, our brain has 2 parts: the cerebellum and the cerebrum.

Both of which function if our over-all mobility may be it be in physical, emotional, or mental aspect.

With that, our brain is working non-stop ever since we are born. It gets tired, and sick too for overworking or for a type of disease as well.

In order to take good care of our brain, we also need to exercise and stretch it to rewire and to restart our thinking circuits from time to time.

You may check my other article about the Benefits of jigsaw puzzles in my own experience so that you’ll know what to expect when you try to play one soon.


Self-care is essential. And playing jigsaw puzzles is not a waste of time, like what other people are saying, especially if benefits your inner being as an individual.

Let me remind you, Puzzlers, that our brain is an organ too. It can catch some disorders like other body organs as well.

It’s better to be kind to ourselves by having a breather, or what we call “me time” from all the hustle and bustle of our surroundings.

It doesn’t mean that we lack compassion or care towards others if we tend to disconnect from them and reconnect with ourselves.

Besides, being one with ourselves is the most important aspect of life, right?

How can you give what you don’t have? How can you function properly if you’re not rested? How will you understand if you don’t give yourself a chance to stop and acknowlege some things inside you that seems to be not ok?

You see, jigsaw puzzles are literally just broken pieces of paper that should be matched properly to fit well but that simple piece of paper could mean a lot to some with troubled minds to make them feel calmer and at ease.

Thanks to John Spilsbury for inventing one! Maybe he never thought at that time that this game would mean so much not only for children but also for mentally sick people. What a great man!

Any thoughts? Care to share one? If so, please write down a comment below and let’s discuss it altogether.

Thanks for reading!

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