A global epidemic brings us all a strange and specific side. Canned food has basically become a currency, its sales are increasing and even the extroverted and impatient ones among us are looking for puzzles to do while moving away from social. Did anyone expect puzzle puzzles to see such a revival in 2020?
The world is discovering ways to keep ourselves entertained while practicing social alienation during the outbreak of the virus. However, many major sports in the US are taking a break and there is only so much Netflix to watch. So we seem to be answering the question of what to do with this unexpected downtime with analog solutions. Tech like painting, and yes, do a bunch of puzzles.
Before rushing to the Target game pass, note that local retailers may be missing out on a puzzle. Not really. Brian Way of the Puzzle Warehouse told The Washington Post that they sold about 10,000 puzzles a week last week, calling the salesman “in excess of Christmas.” If everyone seems to be doing puzzles, it’s because … almost everyone is doing puzzles. NBA players make puzzles. Hosting program hosts make puzzles. Bill and Melinda Gates, who are photographing puzzles on vacation, are probably the middle of the puzzle as we speak. Even Kylie Jenner makes puzzles.
Long before the outbreak of the virus, riddles have seen an increase in sales. According to Market Watch, some reports predict that the puzzle industry will grow to $ 730 million by 2024. In other words, if you suddenly have a desire to put together a puzzle. You’re in good company.
Puzzle puzzles sit in this sweet yet relaxing place. You have a goal (finish the puzzle) but that goal is a particularly low amount. And we can all use something with especially low amounts right now.
If jigsaw puzzle feels like a workout to your brain, it’s because it’s kind of like that. A 2017 study of puzzles and cognition suggests that performing puzzles may help improve your visual function and your spatial awareness. Another study conducted in 2014 on puzzles has revealed that exposure to puzzles and games like this can result in improved spatial skills.
A 2017 blog post by Yale shared how colleagues used puzzles as a way to engage, noting that “puzzles” help strengthen visual acuity, build short-term memory, develop problem-solving skills, increase fine motor skills, and can be “therapeutic.” Puzzles have even been presented as a way to improve your IQ
As the 2017 study states, riddles are “low-cost recreational and intrinsically motivated” activities that can be completed alone, with other people, during one long session or for a week. They are similar to analog activities like the Adult Coloring Book Trend, which has been found to improve mental health and reduce anxiety in some preliminary studies.
Is jigsaw puzzle going to make you healthy, cure your depression, soothe your loneliness, cure your acne and repay your student loans? That is, no. But it can be a conscious, meditative way to get your brain working and to keep you and the people you’re stuck at home with.
If you are looking for places you can still buy puzzles, check out local bookstores, thrift stores and other thrift stores that are still open. Goodwill almost always has puzzles, though they may lack a section or two.
If even the self-quarantine can’t make you want to do a puzzle, you can still experience second-hand satisfaction by browsing the r / JigsawPs puzzle on Reddit, a subreddit dedicated to puzzles and people who love them. Have a jigsaw puzzle on Instagram live. Turn your zoom meeting into a collective puzzle-making chat. (Listen, desperate times require desperate means.) We’ll all go through that time together, piece by piece.
Garcia, Angela C. (2014). Cardboard explorer: emotion, memory and the embodied experience of puzzle making. International Journal of Games, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21594937.2016.1203916
Fissler, P. (2017). Puzzle puzzles as cognitive enrichment. Experiments, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5588550/