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Feeling puzzled? How jigsaws can help you keep a healthy mind

In childhood jigsaws are a toy used to teach shapes, words geography and colours and provide focused, quiet time for children and parents alike. They’re used in waiting rooms to pacify, in schools to educate and develop fine motor skills, helping to prepare children for reading.

Jigsaw puzzles are a powerful tool for stimulating the mind, and that doesn’t stop post-childhood.

Research shows that carrying on the hobby into adulthood has quantifiable benefits. Studies, like the MacArthur study, have shown that keeping the mind active with jigsaw puzzles and other activities that engage the mind can result in a longer life expectancy, a better quality of life and reduce chances of developing certain types of mental illness, including memory loss, dementia and even Alzheimer’s Disease.

Adult jigsaws help the mind as they require concentration and represent a difficult challenge to be overcome. Identifying the right puzzle piece, finding it and slotting it within a continuously growing image requires focus and creativity, logical and spatial thinking. And develops all of these skills.

Visual perception and coordination are improved through puzzle building, adults and children who are encouraged to configure these pieces often experience enhanced creativity, problem solving and motor skills.

Puzzle building can also be therapeutic. As the puzzle comes to completion and more pieces are matched, the brain releases the feel-good chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine also plays a key role in both memory improvement and learning ability. And unless you are building a puzzle against the clock, the relaxing pastime often lowers blood pressure and reduces anxiety.

Our recently appointed ‘Minister for Jigsaws’, Sue Riches is putting the benefits of jigsaws into practice with her own jigsaw club, Piece Together. The club was founded to encourage people to socialise whilst keeping their brain active by completing puzzles. Piece Together has accrued a growing library of jigsaws and is extending the club’s jigsaw based services out to local care homes, retirement flats, hospices and drop-in centres allowing more people to enjoy the benefits of adult jigsaws.

The key is picking the right adult jigsaw, and our catalogue includes a huge variety of difficult puzzles for those who want to really push themselves and some which are much simpler to complete. Picking not just a visually impressive but also the right difficulty is key. If you need inspiration, we’ve picked some of our most difficult and most relaxing adult jigsaws to give you an idea:

Pencil Collage Jigsaw Puzzle - By Maureen Rupprecht

This is one of our trickier adult jigsaw puzzles, ideal if you are looking for an extra difficult jigsaw challenge. This traditional high quality wooden jigsaw puzzle would make a great gift for any puzzle enthusiast.

The Cove Jigsaw Puzzle - By Christopher Rogers

Kynance Cove depicted here is in Cornwall and considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world with dramatic cliff walks, wild flowers and geological features. This adult jigsaw is not the most difficult but is tricky enough to be enjoyable.

Kaleidoscope Jigsaw Puzzle - By Chris Ceaser

A beautiful nature scene by Chris Ceaser. This wooden jigsaw puzzle is made extra tricky by the use of repetitive colours and the mirrored reflection effect on the water. To make the puzzle even more difficult to complete the puzzle has irregular edges, so if you are looking for a challenge, this one could be for you.

The 17.30 to Swanage Jigsaw Puzzle - By Gerald Savine

An old steam train puffing through the countryside, the 17:30 to Swanage is a beautiful setting of luscious fields and captivating castle ruins. This British adult jigsaw puzzle makes a fantastic gift for any trainspotting lovers.