A bit of a puzzle

26 Aug 2022
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When I was a young boy (really stretching the memory cells now) I played many games. Some of these were by myself as I was an only child. I was given a few jigsaw puzzles as presents and enjoyed the challenge of completing them.

 

As I grew older there were many other distractions and I lost interest in jigsaws completely. For over half a century I forgot all about their existence.

 

All that changed in March 2020 when two events happened simultaneously. My mental meltdown and the spread of Covid. My OH realised I desperately needed something to occupy my time. She spoke to a few friends and a very kind lady delivered three jigsaw boxes leaving them outside our front door.

 

Over the last 30 months we have had a jigsaw on the go most of the time. Winter months in the dining room and moving to the conservatory in the summer light.

 

For me jigsaws have delivered two great benefits. Firstly in the immediate aftermath of my meltdown they acted as a wonderful distraction technique. They provided my mind with something to do rather continually dwell about my terrible MH. Secondly they have provided relaxing hours compiling pictures with and without my OH.

 

I realised some time ago that jigsaws were beneficial in treating poor MH. In fact my research has confirmed that jigsaws are a great meditation tool and stress reliever. They keep the brain active and reinforce the connections between brain cells, improving mental speed and short term memory.  

 

Some facts that you may not know about jigsaws:

 

*  The first one was invented by John Spilsbury around 1760.

 

*   The jigsaw with the greatest number of pieces had 551,232 pieces and measured around 48ft by 76ft!

 

*  The largest commercially available jigsaw has 54000 pieces is called “Travel by Art” and sold by “Grafika”.

 

* In the late sixties the “Rolling Stones” sang the Jigsaw Puzzle song. 

 

We are fortunate because we have a market stall nearby that buys and sells jigsaws. They charge £5 for an almost new one and give back £2 if you return it to them.

 

I have one small health warning about these puzzles. If I am finding one difficult and am making very slow progress, sometimes I can get frustrated and my anxiety level can increase. I am fairly self aware so I will stop and do something else for a while.

 

I would love to hear about your jigsaw experiences and if they help your MH. 

Teg

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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Comments

Adam G

Aug. 27, 2022, 5:06 a.m.

Great post Teg! Our daughter reintroduced us to jigsaw puzzles and we have had a lot of fun and (valuable) distraction from them. There is always a friendly fight to place the final piece!

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:12 a.m.

Hi Adam I think there has been a resurgence in jigsaws following the lockdown periods. Thanks for you comment and keep fighting for the final piece! Txx

the room above the garage

Aug. 27, 2022, 5:08 a.m.

Hello Teg, I love a jigsaw. Many happy hours spent with children doing them (The Snowman, after bath and before bed in the evenings running towards Christmas!). I notice how good they make my head feel. We don’t have many but you’ve reminded me that it’s helpful to have one on the go…today! Thank you :-)

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:18 a.m.

Good Morning RATG I never did them with my children, shame. I'm pleased it has brought back lovely memories for you. A jigsaw anti depressant? Save the NHS millions! Enjoy your jigsaw day. txx

Frankie

Aug. 27, 2022, 5:57 a.m.

Not just me then! I have not yet learnt how to be mindful; doing jigsaws is the nearest I get. Lucky you, getting them bought back! I get mine from charity shops. I think our local library has a "bring one, take one" policy. Darling hubby knows that I will be much more relaxed after an hour or two spent on one. I think when I am doing a jigsaw I am giving myself permission to switch off from stress/anxiety/worries. I am also giving myself the chance to "sit with" my low moods and particularly my on-going grieving for my two sisters' deaths. ( I was doing a jigsaw the afternoon we heard that Nicky had collapsed again and while we waited for the news that she had died.) I realise that they might not work for everyone, but they work for me. Hello lovely Moodscopers! Frankie

Reply

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:21 a.m.

Hello lovely Frankie! Waving Bear paws at you as it’s so lovely to see you here. I understand the grief and sadness you are feeling and getting ‘lost’ in an absorbing jigsaw is so therapeutic. Much love and Bear hugs x x x

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:23 a.m.

Hi Frankie Good to hear from you. If I am in a charity shop I always look to see if there are any jigsaws. It sounds like you have found mindfulness to me. That is another piece of your MH toolkit! So sorry to hear about your sisters. I hope the jigsaws help with you grieving. Txx

Sally

Aug. 27, 2022, 7:38 a.m.

Two sisters, Frankley! I knew about one,but that's so sad to have to say goodbye to two. Heartfelt sympathy during your grieving.

greenjean

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:15 a.m.

Yes Teg, definitely a fan of jig-saws and find them therapeutic. Tend to do them less in the summer as I’m a keen gardener which also helps me relax. Think you either love or hate jig-saws and I definitely love them. Happy puzzling!

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:27 a.m.

HI greenjean I am also a gardener and find jigsaws a great relaxant after a session of physical work. Thanks for your upbeat comments. Txx

Brum Mum

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:23 a.m.

Hi Teg jigsaws kept me sane during lockdown and a distraction from heavy work and family responsibilities. A great blog.

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:29 a.m.

Hi Brum Mum I think we are fast forming the Moodscope jigsaw club! Thanks for your comment. Txx

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:33 a.m.

Goodly morning and happy SaTegday! Great blog and I enjoyed the snippets of information on the jigsaws! Who knew there was one so large! I love jigsaws and often think I will treat myself to one those board/covers so I can close it and carry it out of the way when we need the table (twice daily!!). But because I have nowhere to leave it ‘safely’ at the moment and time is taken up with swimming, gardening, cleaning and the rest of life, I have no time…but you’ve reminded me that on the coming autumn/wintery days when we are tucked up in the house - I can get the puzzles out and get immersed in one. When Baby Bear was two years old, I happened to take a really sweet picture of her in our sitting room and sent the photo to her grandparents. MiL loved it so much, that when her birthday came around, I had the photo made into a puzzle and gave it to her from Baby Bear. She adored it - it wasn’t a large puzzle but MiL was heavily in to puzzles and loved it. We both found a jigsaw on the go quite absorbing and would spend an hour or more ‘just passing’ the table and putting a few pieces in!! In an office I used to work in there was a jigsaw left for anyone to do. It was so lovely to take your lunch and eat it and chill out, followed by a half hour at the jigsaw. I worked on an RAF base, miles from anywhere so there was nowhere to ‘go’ at lunchtime, so this was an ideal pastime to join in with. Nearly everyone had a go! As to the final piece? Some cheats used to keep a piece back, so they could say ‘Oh look what was on the floor!’ (Rolling eyes emoji) Have a super SaTegday and thank you for a great blog, Teg. Love and Bear hugs x x x

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:44 a.m.

Good Morning Mrs Bear A very comprehensive reply again, thank you. A few years ago we bought a jigsaw board. It easily takes a 1000 pieces. It also has 4 trays that slide underneath it for storing the pieces. My OH gave me a jigsaw made from a photo. Very romantic, just the two of us at her 70th birthday party. I should have realised you would be too busy to start one now but get those paws ready when autumn arrives! Txx

G

Aug. 27, 2022, 3:13 p.m.

Such a great idea, getting a photo made into a jigsaw!

Salt Water Mum

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:35 a.m.

Hi Teg, hi moodscopers, A close family friend who lives alone and has MH issues discovered jigsaws during covid. Now, he is always discovering something and usually tires of it after a while! But the jigsaws are really working for him. He says they help him concentrate and keep positive and focus. Like you said, it can be frustrating at times but that’s when he walks away. He has even invested in a jigsaw table - With a green baize that tilts. I can see the positive difference in him. Me? I think I’m a little too impatient! When I need to be in the moment, I’m better going for a swim or a paddle :-) but… i never say never ! Swm x

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 8:23 a.m.

Hi SWM Great to hear another positive jigsaw experience. One of the problems with poor MH is lack of concentration. Mine is improving but for a couple of years I could not concentrate enough to begin reading a novel. Frustration also needs to be managed. Thanks for replying. Txx

Dolphin

Aug. 27, 2022, 7:31 a.m.

Thanks for a lovely post and comments. Here's a suggestion for those of us who don't have the room to leave a puzzle on a table. Online jigsaws have been great for me and can be taken along when you travel (when we used to travel). They calm me, provide a creative distraction, act as a treat at the end of a task - they fulfill many needs. I've noticed that I choose puzzles according to need. When I needed serious calming, I went through as many Hokusai and Japanese prints as I could find. Beautiful and tranquil. On-line puzzles are limited in the number of pieces - 300 seems to be the maximum that can fit on my laptop screen. As I mostly use a laptop, I can do puzzles wherever I am. The major downside is that the puzzles are on-screen and many of us spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen. For me, the benefits hugely outweigh the disadvantages. There are several sites, so you can choose one that has the puzzles that attract you the most. I used Jigsaw Planet. love and thanks to you all

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 8:46 a.m.

Hi Dolphin Thanks for the info about on line jigsaws. I did not know of their existence! Certainly useful if you are travelling. Happy puzzling txx

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 27, 2022, 2:27 p.m.

Hi Dolphin - had never heard of them as an online tool! How great is that? I have friends who had had a stroke, they are stuck in chairs - wheeled or sitting room chairs for hours on end - most of them do games off the internet, like scrabble or quizzes - will pass this info on! Ve ve good thank you. Bear x x x

Liz

Aug. 27, 2022, 7:44 a.m.

Hi Teg. This is interesting. I do online jigsaw puzzles and it has a timer. I like to try and get under 10 minutes. I was actually worrying about poor memory and thought that matching shapes and colours would be good... brain fog has definitely been a symptom of menopause for me. I like the fact that there is no mess and it is quick (relatively). I did have a jigsaw on the table for a while in the first house my husband and I bought together but somehow that feels cluttered to me and it annoys me that I have still bits to do. I have given up with some... a particularly difficult French cheese one which I did think about framing after my then boyfriend's sister cracked it. I did find one that I had from childhood - one depicting Canada and the shape - and it was wonderful to revisit it, complete it and then gift it back to charity. I never really thought about them being relaxing as such but that is interesting, that meditative, in the moment quality that they have. Somehow, you focus on it completely until your mind drifts back and you can have hours that will literally disappear until that moment. Thank you for your blog - here's to the jigsaw x

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 1:52 p.m.

Hi Liz I don't whether I could manage a time pressure! 1000 pieces takes hours and hours. But thanks for the on line tip which Dolphin also referred to. The comments I have received totally support the argument that jigsaws are good MH therapy. Txx

The Gardener

Aug. 27, 2022, 8:23 a.m.

Used to do a lot of jig-saws - not so much in France, don't know why - perhaps because if they take a long time they are always hanging about - and space usually taken up for current research project in hand. I am becoming addicted to Solitaire - annoying - when i am 'rudderless' think 'just a few minutes' then it's two hours. SUDOKU another addiction. Have not seen jig-saws in France, no charity shops, 'vide greniers' aka car-boots, THE week-end entertainment, the junk! Thanks Teg

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 1:57 p.m.

Hi TG Perhaps their scarcity means the French people cannot tolerate the English addiction to puzzles! I agree some of our pastimes can become addictive so they can infringe on time availability for other matters. Txx

Orangeblossom

Aug. 27, 2022, 9:44 a.m.

Thanks for your blog Teg. I didn’t do jigsaw puzzles as a child becauseI thought that maybe I was no good at them. The ecard company Jaquie Lawson sometimes provides jigsaw puzzles with their e-cards & I have found to my surprise, that I enjoy doing these puzzles.

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 2:01 p.m.

Hi OB This could be a new venture! There are different levels of complexity and size. Just a warning, they can become addictive. You may find they help your MH. Txx

Another Sally

Aug. 27, 2022, 11:22 a.m.

Great blog Teg. I love jigsaws and have too many. I can go quite a long time before starting one, but once in I can get quite absorbed. For a while I had a grown up daughter living at home with us and we enjoyed doing jigsaws together and she was in our ‘bubble’ during lockdowns and the puzzles kept us going. I scour charity shops for them when I want something different. The National Trust have had some very good ones across the years and the RNLI and RSPB, now I find that Cancer Research has some new ones in store. I have a folding jigsaw board with a tray upon which to construct the jigsaw and four smaller trays that fit onto the bigger one. I can sort shapes or colours on those. Half the portfolio can be used to lay out all the pieces and when putting away you put the smaller trays over the partly made jigsaw then the large tray across the loose laid out pieces, fold across the lid and zip it up. Then I can slide it under the sofa. Couldn’t get on without it. Happy puzzling to those who dig it ! Waves and best wishes to everyone. Feeling good today. Yaay. AS xx

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 2:05 p.m.

Hi AS So glad you are having a good day. Your jigsaw operation sounds very professional. I agree they can be a source of family entertainment although arguments can develop! It certainly beats looking at screens all day. Thanks for your comments. Txx

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 27, 2022, 2:30 p.m.

Super to hear you are feeling good today sweet Sally - really great ;-)*. Love and Bear hugs x x x

G

Aug. 27, 2022, 3:27 p.m.

Hi Teg. I love jigsaws as well but like others I tend to do the on line ones these days. I find it very satisfying when a piece fits! My dad lives alone and always has one on the go. I’m going to find a suitable photo for him and get it made into a jigsaw. I wonder if they do them where you can’t see what the photo is? So it’s a surprise. Thanks for the blog x

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:29 p.m.

Hi G I never realised there were so many people doing jigsaws on line. I am not sure but I think the pieces arrived with no photo or copy. I'm sure your Dad will love it. Txx

Another Sally

Aug. 28, 2022, 3:30 p.m.

Hi, I was given one by my late daughter of her and her sisters as youngsters, no clue as to what the picture would be. I thought it was tropical fish, due to the patterns on their dresses. It was a lovely thoughtful gift for a special birthday.

G

Aug. 28, 2022, 7:55 p.m.

Thank you Sally, I will start searching. I hope yours gives you comfort if you still have it, I bet you couldn’t wait to finish it! It’s a lovely idea isn’t it x

Sally

Aug. 27, 2022, 3:43 p.m.

Rediscovered in the first lockdown, they became a ritual with my young granddaughter ( once we were allowed to see her!) I only do the simple ones, but our German friends do the 1000 piece ones, and used to report on their progress and themes! I agree they are a soothing pastime, and satisfying when completed. At the moment, we have one of the map of Switzerland, which is great for learning the geography and is shaped like the country itself. Thanks, Teg, good subject.

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:35 p.m.

Hi Sally Jigsaws that are geographical are a challenge but give satisfaction when complete. As well as being educational and great for youngsters. After you have completed a few of a 1000 pieces, they don't seem so daunting. Txx

Valerie

Aug. 27, 2022, 4:23 p.m.

Hi Teg, I used to love them as a child,but when I bought a huge one from a charity shop,I found it caused the anxiety you refer to.Spock is in his element with anything like that.***

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:37 p.m.

Hi Valerie I try to choose puzzles that are not too challenging. As I said they can have benefits for those with poor MH. Txx

Oli

Aug. 27, 2022, 4:56 p.m.

Hi Teg, While not a fan of jigsaws specifically, I get something I like from puzzles. Puzzles are different from problems. It's funny how we usually enjoy the challenge of one but feel stressed about the other. Except, as you and Val mentioned, it seems that puzzles can cause stress too sometimes. Thanks for the blog; I want to think a bit more about puzzles and problems.

Reply

Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:28 p.m.

Lovely post, some interesting points to explain why I sometimes find them theraputic too. A team effort is fun too. A lady in her 90s living alone spends many hours I find in charity shops on her behalf and regularly return 5 or 10. Is your market stall anywhere near the Frome, Trowbridge or Warminster area? A reduced cost on new ones when returning some would be great. It's a long shot, but I thought I'd ask. Thanks Lynne

Reply

Teg

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:46 p.m.

Hi Lynne Sorry I am in the Midlands well over 50 miles from Somerset and Wiltshire towns. You should be proud of the help you give to this old lady. I hope she appreciates your jigsaw service. Txx

Oli

Aug. 27, 2022, 6:52 p.m.

Hi Lynne *waving from Bruton*

Nicco

Aug. 27, 2022, 9:50 p.m.

I'm glad jigsaws are a beneficial tool for you, Teg. I get a dreadful feeling of overwhelm doing them physically so I do them online at Jigidi.com where I find I learn something every time I log on. I can also use the pictures for meditation purposes & it's great to learn about other places, birds & animals in other countries. There's a great community, too, so I feel connected & a little less isolated.

Reply

Teg

Aug. 28, 2022, 6:38 a.m.

Hi Nicco Good to hear. The on line versions are obviously very popular. The ancillary benefits sound great too. Thanks for letting us know. Txx

Lexi

Aug. 27, 2022, 10:27 p.m.

Thank you, Teg. My 13 yr old is having a really hard time of late with anxiety and depression. We picked up a jigsaw puzzle at a sidewalk sale and we're looking forward to doing it together. xo

Reply

Teg

Aug. 28, 2022, 6:41 a.m.

Hi Lexi Great idea and certainly worth a try. I hope it works. Txx

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