4/14/2020 | By Terri L. Jones

If a seemingly infinite number of colorful pieces of pasteboard are scattered across a table, you’ll either make a beeline to that table (and spend minutes, if not hours, trying to fit them together) – or you’ll just keep walking. In other words, the world is divided into puzzle people and people who wouldn’t do a puzzle unless it was the last thing on earth to do.

Well, if you’ve caught up on all of your Netflix shows, cleaned out all your closets, and grown tired of browsing social media, it just might have come to that!

Surge in Demand for the Puzzle

These days, while we’re all stuck in the house and have lots of time on our hands, both puzzle people and non-puzzle people are congregating and cogitating over puzzles. You’ll see celebrities and average folks alike showing off their puzzle-solving skills on social media, and in Australia, the prime minister even considered puzzles “essential” and allowed his citizens to leave their homes to buy them.

As a result of this increase in popularity, jigsaw puzzle manufacturers are reporting huge spikes in sales: seven puzzles sold a minute to 20! A similar surge in demand happened during another time of great instability, the Great Depression, when manufacturers were producing 10 million puzzles per week.

Popular During Uncertain Times

Why does this activity attract so many people during times like these? Maybe it’s because the act of putting puzzles together is quiet and thoughtful, which may soothe frazzled nerves and alleviate stress. Puzzles also allow you to create order when everything around you seems so chaotic and out of your control. Not to mention, it just feels good to accomplish something when the rest of your life is on hold … even if it’s just slipping a few pieces into their proper places.

Good for the Brain

But puzzles are hardly just a mindless way to fill time. Jigsaws can help improve your short-term memory and strengthen your problem-solving skills. Plus, studies suggest that they may also improve your visuospatial skills, the same skills that help you drive (and park) your car, efficiently pack a suitcase or use a map.

So, if you have a puzzle handy, clear a space, dump out those pieces and put all that idle time – and your noggin – to good use. But you won’t get just one round out of it … once you’re finished, pull the pieces apart and start all over again! Guaranteed for days of fun!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones