This one's a puzzler
Ready to unplug and get your brain and fingers grooving? Color coding piles, searching for that impossibly odd-shaped piece and pulling your hair out when you've decided that piece must be missing (it isn't), are all a part of the joys of puzzle solving. Piecing together those 500 (or 3,000 if you're a master) pieces is oh so satisfying. That's because puzzles are more than a fun way to torture yourself, they are a great way to boost your mood and improve your memory.
One reasons puzzles are so gratifying is because they increase the production of dopamine. Every time you snap a piece into its puzzle home your brain generates a little buzz of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that connects nerve cells. Its main job is to broadcast pleasure signals, but it also helps with memory and concentration. My family will occasionally puzzle together during the winter and we are glued to the table until the masterpiece is completed. Have you ever had a hard time walking away from an unfinished puzzle? That's because your brain is having so much fun, thanks to all that dopamine.
When you concentrate on a puzzle your brain starts working in amazing ways. You improve your finger dexterity and hand-eye coordination as you pick up and move the pieces. You also form new connections between brain cells, which is how you improve your short-term memory. Regular puzzle sessions (and other brain training games, like crosswords) can improve your memory, logic and how quickly your brain can process information. People who regularly puzzle can delay symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's.
If reducing screen time before bed is one of your New Year's resolutions, puzzling is a great place to start. Your brain concentrates on the problem you've scattered onto the table (and not the problems in your head). Going to bed with a puzzle brain is a lot better than a television brain. By wearing out your thoughts with a puzzle you will fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
If you don't have a puzzle here are a few to get you started.
If you're looking for a challenge check out this puzzle:
Something fun and buggy: